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LI B R.ARY 

OF THE 
UN IVERSITY 
Of ILLI NOIS 



8^5 



LUCY AYLMER. 



BY THE AUTHOR OS 



If thou do ill ; the joy fades, not the pains : 
If well } the pain doth fade, the joy remains. 

GEORGE HEBBEBT. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
YOL. III. 



LONDON: 

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 

1857. 



LONDON : 

Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street. 



y/.3 



LUCY AYLMEK. 



CHAPTER I. 

They surprised 
His easv nature ; took him when his heart 
Was soften'd by their blandishments. 
They wrought him to their purposes I 

MOBB's SACILED DSaMaS. 

Two years had passed away since that 
summer whose bright sunshine saw Lady 
Flora and Lucy's wedding-days. Two yeai*s ! 
It seemed a lonoj time to look foi'ward, but 
it soon ghded by. Spring flowers put forth 
their pm'e and lovely blossoms, faded and 
died; simimer roses tilled the air vrith their 
perfume and passed away ; the long grass 
grew, and the mowers scythe went over it ; 
the swallows made their nests beneath the 

VOL. III. B 



2 LUCY AYLMER. 

portico of the old Manor House, watched 
their young, then emigrated again to southern 
shores. The bells of St. Walburga rang 
marriage peals and funeral knells ; old men 
were carried to their rest beneath the silent 
yew, and infants were brought to the font 
in baptism ; and the weeks went spinning, 
spinning on. 

Time had made a few changes in Forsted; 
but Squire Neville was still the same. 
No grey yet sprinkled his brown hair ; his 
cheek still wore its ruddy hue, and he 
rode his swift horse and tally-hoed after 
the hounds with all his wonted zest. Maude 
had grown handsomer, more brilliant ; but 
continued as light-hearted and careless as 
of old. Augusta Neville abode at the 
Manor — that was one change. Another was 
at Castle St. Agnes. Poor old mansion, its 
pride and glory seemed departed ; closed 
shutters and empty rooms gave it a most 
dismal appearance ; and the ancient house- 
keeper, and her few maidens professed to lead 
a solitary life. All the family were abroad, 
and had not been near St. Agnes since the 
day after Lady Flora's departure, when the 



LUCY AYLMER. 3 

Countess had left suddenly, ordering the 
greater part of the furniture, ornaments and 
pictures to be sent to the Hall in Essex, 
rebuilt for their use, but now, like Castle St. 
Agnes, tenantless. 

St. Walburga's bells rang a great deal — 
for every saint had his especial day kept, and 
St. Walburga's priest did strange things 
during the ser\ice, not mentioned in the 
Prayer-book, which some folks liked and 
some grumbled at. Ever bright, serene and 
changeless, was the little wife at the Par- 
sonage gate, on a July evening, wearing a 
plain white dress and some wild flowers 
wreathed in and out her fair hair — holding 
on one arm a bright, sunny child, while with 
her right hand she pushed open the gate and 
looked down the lane, with its shady over- 
hanging trees and clear rippling pond at the 
end. There was a delicious fragrance of new- 
mown hay in the air, and some nightingales 
were singing and answering each other's song 
most melodiously. 

The little wife seemed very happy, and 
laughed at her baby, and shook flowers in his 
face, which the bright one year old boy 

B 2 



4 LUCY AYLMER. 

crowed and snatched at with all his might. 
After a little w^hile, Lucy shut the gate and 
sauntered out into the lane, and culled wild 
flowers and threw them over her baby's little 
fair, shining head, who opened wide his 
bright blue eyes in the extent of his glee, and 
looked vastly like the Squire. Numbers of 
bright moths flew past, and swarms of knats 
which Lucy flapped away with the flowers — 
there was a lovely evening glow over every- 
thing, and the old w^eather-cock on the church- 
spire, glittered like gold. Hay-makers and 
farming men slowly plodded home from their 
work, making respectful bows to Lucy, and 
smiling as they passed at the pretty child, 
who looked back at them over her shoulder. 
Lucy stopped to one old man, very bent and 
aged, and spoke kindly and familiarly to him ; 
and she put the baby's soft fair hand in his 
hard wrinkled one. The old man was llobbins, 
the Manor House gardener. 

When Lucy turned away from him, she 
suddenly caught sight of a well-known figure 
in the distance, and calHng merrily, " Harry 
look — there's papa !" hurried nimbly along to 
meet him. 



LUCY ATLMER. 

Robert dusty and tired, and making use 
of his walking-stick, brightened up when he 
saw the white Httle figure coming towards 
him, and forgot his long walk when her voice 
greeted him, her lips pressed his, and the rosy 
little Harry was taken in his arms, danced, 
caressed — and then with his httle wife linked 
to his arm, the country parson went to his 
home, happy on that July eve. 

" Have you any news to tell me, Robert ?" 
Lucy asked as they went along. 

" Nothing of any moment. Your uncle is 
canvassing most actively, and giving dinners 
by the dozen." 

"Do you think he will get in ?" 

" He has every chance of success. When- 
ever did you know him fail in any under- 
taking ?" 

" I hope he will succeed for poor Flora's 
sake. Did you hear anything of her when you 
were in London ?" 

" I saw her, my dear, in her very elegant 
barouche, driving towards the Park." 

" How did she look ?" 

" Her costume was surpassingly elegant ; 
but if you ask after personal looks — she more 



b LUCY AYLMER. 

resembled a dressed-up dead creature, than 
anything else." 

Lucy sighed deeply. 

" She did not see me/' Robert went on. " I 
was crossing Bond Street, and on the opposite 
side strangely enough, at the same moment, 
Lord Glendowan was passing — you should 
have seen his look as he bowed to her — the 
most unfeigned pity ! I did not watch Plora ; 
but I should think she has lived long enough 
to repent bitterly her rejection of that good- 
hearted fellow." 

" Do you imagine Uncle Archer is kinder to 
her now ?" 

" Lady Tyrrell called him a * brute,' in 
speaking to me. So you may draw your own 
conclusions." 

Lucy shuddered. "He so soon changed 
towards her ; yet he loved her so deeply at 
first. I am sure that was not feigned." 

"My dear Lucy, you do not understand 
the whole thing. In the first place, your 
Uncle has a vile temper of his own : he never 
showed it to his sister. I think he stood in 
awe of her ; but was there ever a better person 
on whom to vent all his humours, than his 



LUCY AYLMER. / 

wife — a weak-minded, complaining creature. 
Everything that goes wrong is sure to be 
visited on her ; and instead of showing some 
independent spirit, she implores and caresses ; 
and finally, when this fails, she goes off into 
fits of misery, and keeps her room for days, 
until she is dragged out rouged and decorated, 
to do the noble lady for him at some dinner 
either at home or abroad." 

"What a dreadful life!" 

" Still it is true ; and in the second place, 
he is disappointed. In marrying into the 
family of De Walden, he expected to mount 
on their greatness ; instead of which the Lady 
Flora Erresford's friends refused to visit the 
Lady Flora Tyrrell ; and her family showed 
pride enough to make the man hate the whole 
set." 

" But still. Uncle Archer had such a wide 
circle of his own. It surely might have con- 
tented him." 

'* Nothing would satisfy his ambition. If 
he could possess the whole world, he would, 
like Alexander, sit down and weep, because 
there was no more to win. The fact is, your 
Uncle aimed too high. He fancied he would 



8 LUCY AYLMER. 

rise on his wife's rank, and she was just the 
very woman to be retiring and shrinking, 
instead of pushing into, and seeking those 
circles to which, by her birth, she was 
entitled." 

" It is an unhappy story," said Lucy ; " and 
yet some persons, who cannot see behind the 
scenes, would envy Flora's position." 

" Cecil is in a great state of mind about 
her. I never knew him so indignant." 

" Because of her marriage, Robert ?" 

" No, not he ! Provided a man is a gen- 
tleman, and honourable, and right-minded, he 
never cares about rank. But no fellow likes to 
see his sister so bullied and trampled on. I 
know I should not." 

" It must be a great drawback to his 
pleasure in returning home. How does he 
look?" 

" Oh ! he is a glorious fellow — better and 
handsomer than all the world beside ! He 
asked many questions about you and his 
godson, and sent remembrances and messages 
by wholesale." 

" And has Lord De Walden benefited by 
his long absence ?" 



LUCY ATLMER. 9 

" I assure you, my dear, he has become 
quite reasonable and agreeable, only he rather 
bored me with American anecdotes. He spoke 
in glowing terms of his brother when Cecil 
was out of the way, and told me he owed to 
Erresford his restoration of mind and body." 

" Good Cecil !" exclaimed Lucy. 

" A-propos of good folks, I met Mostyn in 
the course of my London rambles — he talks of 
coming here for a few weeks. Noble fellow ! 
he always reminds me of St. Augustine, or 
one of the early fathers of the church." 
Lucy made no remark, and Robert continued: 

" I wish Lucy, darling, you liked him 
better." 

" I should respect him if he were a Roman 
Catholic," said Lucy gravely. 

" That is bigotry, Lucy bird. He is a noble 
son of the Anglican Church ; and long may he 
continue in it." 

" But, dear Robert, if he were only less 
narrow-minded and less rigid in his doctrines ?" 

" Narrow-minded ! why, Lucy, his mind is 
capable of grasping the universe !" Robert 
exclaimed. 

" Oh ! I know he is very clever. I did not 

B 3 



10 LUCY AYLMER. 

mean that, but then he has no spirit of 
toleration except towards CathoUcs." 

" You do not understand him, Lucy, or you 
would appreciate him as highly as I do." 

" He is so different from Cecil," Lucy said 
gently. 

" It is possible to admire extremes, Lucy. 
The only fault in Cecil is, that his views are too 
general." 

Lucy looked puzzled. 

" Do not look so solemn, little Lu. Cecil 
and you might be stauncher members of the 
Anglican Church, that is all I meant to infer ; 
but that will come by and bye, when old 
familiar prejudices are worn off." 

" I do not think mine ever will be, Robert 
dear," said Lucy smiling. 

" Well, never mind about that now. When 
Mostyn comes, we will waive controversies for 
your sake, dear little woman !" 

Robert opened the gate, and Lucy skipped 
across the lawn, forgetting her Anglican mem- 
bership, in the delights of surprising Robert 
with some improvements she had been making 
in his study, during his absence. Robert 
pronounced her the " best httle wife in the 



LUCY AYLMER. 11 

world !" and happily they sat down to take 
tea in the sunny parlour, with its glass-doors 
open, letting in a perfume of jessamine and 
honeysuckle, with which the verandah was 
trained. 

The weeks glided by very smoothly with 
Lucy. Maude and she were as much together 
as before her marriage, and the Squire played 
con amore his part of grandpapa to the 
vicarage baby. The child was a ludicrous 
likeness of himself, and though named " Harry 
Cecil/' after Robert's father and Erresford, 
the Squire persisted in calling him " Little 
Phil," to the no small amusement of Maude. 

The Squire's economical resolutions had 
soon vanished — his old habits were too deeply 
rooted to be eradicated, and he hunted and 
betted with all his former gusto, encouraged, 
though under a semblance of regret, by his 
brother, from whom he had been compelled to 
borrow another loan, and thus had the 
mortgage become heavier over the old house 
and property. 

At first, Maude had been troubled by 
this ; but she never mentioned her anxiety to 
Lucy, and not having Cecil near to give her 

VOL. HI. B 4 



12 LUCY AYLMER. 

warning and advice, her light-heartedness soon 
made her forget it, on the plan of the old 
proverb — " What can't be cured, &c." 

It was on one of her father's hunting 
mornings, shortly after the conversation 
between Robert and Lucy, just related, that 
Maude came in to see Lucy, whom she found 
busily engaged in the domestic occupation 
of preparing fruit for preserving. Maude 
threw off her bonnet and gloves, and com- 
menced helping her sister, seating herself on 
the floor, with a series of baskets around her. 
" I say, little Lu, I came in this morning 
especially to condole with you," Maude 
began. 

" About what, my dear girl ? I was not 
aware I needed condolence," said Lucy, 
laughing. 

"I declare Lucy, you are a philosopher. 
Robert told me yesterday evening, when I 
encountered the young man in the fields, that 
he is about to inflict on you the society of 
that attenuated morsel of holiness — Hubert 
Mostyn !" 

" Did he say that ?" exclaimed Lucy. 

" He did not use my form of speech, of 



LUCY AYLMER. 13 

course ; but he gave me to understand the holy 
brother meditates a descent on your retire- 
ment." 

"You must come and help me entertain 
him, Maude." 

" My very dear little child, I came with the 
express purpose of desiring you to hoist a 
handkerchief from the top window in intima- 
tion of his arrival, that I may avoid the house . 
Let black be the signal of his presence — white 
of his departure ; then T shall return in peace, 
and learn a detailed account of the miseries 
inflicted on you during his residence at the 
jessamine-covered elysium. 

"Now, Maude, it will be very shabby of 
you if you desert me — you have no idea how 
difficult he is to entertain. Everything seems 
to go wrong when he is here, and he walks 
about with his eyes cast down, that he is per- 
petually stumbling." 

Maude laughed merrily. " He will be 
falling over poor little Harry, and crushing 
him." 

" Oh ! I shall be obhged to send Harry up 
to you, for he cannot endure children." 

" The wretch !" exclaimed Maude ; " and if 



14 LUCY AYLMER. 

the truth were told, I do not think he feels 
much love for you." 

" He thinks Robert did wrong in marrying," 
replied Lucy. 

" No doubt ; the gentleman wanted to add 
another to the class ' fools/ to which he him- 
self belongs," Maude said in a comical 
tone. 

" He always had an eye to Robert for St. 
Margaret's brotherhood," Lucy answered; " he 
told Robert so one day." 

" If I had been Mrs. Robert, instead of 
you, you meek httle thing — I should just have 
made St. Hubert acquainted with my senti- 
ments on the subject." 

" He never attends to what women say — he 
regards us as a species of nonenity." 

" Nasty creature ! I think I shall come 
every day and tease him, till I have made his 
life so wretched, that he speedily departs. No, 
a better thought has struck me. I know he 
eschews matrimony — I will pretend to be 
vastly in love with him !" Maude jumped 
up in her glee, and overturning a basket of 
gooseberries, sent them rolling about the 
floor. 



LUCY AYLMER. ]5 

Lucy laughed brightly at Maude's disaster, 
and refused to assist her in her perambula- 
tions over the carpet in search of the truant 
fruit. 

" That comes of making fun of my husband's 
friend," said Lucy. " I really am ashamed of 
myself." 

" I like it," repHed Maude. " You may 
depend, if my husband brings home friends 
without my approval, I shall not spare my 
criticisms. But then I never shall arrive at 
being such a piece of propriety as you are ! 
When does St. Hubert make his appear- 

" To-morrow afternoon. Robert goes to 
Branstone to meet him." 

" I am going to try a new horse to-morrow ; 
and I might as well ride through Branstone 
as in any other direction. The meeting will 
be worth seeing." 

" Oh ! don't, Maude ! It is very wicked of 
you !" said Lucy, trying not to laugh. 

" I cannot help it, my dear, if it is ; and I 
shall come in my most killing dress to-morrow 
evening and take tea with you. I shall 
count on being regaled with strawberries and 
cream." 



16 



LUCY AYLMER. 



" Oh ! to-morrow is Friday ; and Mr. 
Mostyn always fasts. Breakfast is his only 
meal." 

" Miserable young man !" exclaimed Maude, 
throwing up her hands. " Well, never mind, 
I will make him break through his rules." 

" Oh, Maude ! don't do anything absurd for 
Robert's sake," said Lucy, anxiously. 

" Let me alone, Lu. If we do not expose 
the young man's foUies, we shall have Robert 
plunging into the fraternity himself." 

" Oh, dear ! Maude ! what dreadful nonsense 
you talk ! You will be dubbing me a sister 
next ; and then what is to become of Harry ?" 

" A future brother ! Let me see, was there 
ever a saint Harry in the calendar ?" Here 
Maude spied the child in the garden with his 
nurse, and darted out to have some gambols 
with him on the lawn. Lucy went on quietly 
and diligently with her household duties, that 
she might be able to give her undivided at- 
tention to her husband's guest when he arrived. 
True to his time, the four o'clock train depo- 
sited Hubert Mostyn at Branstone. True to 
her playful threat, Maude mounted on a 
beautiful horse, rode by the station, just 



LUCY AYLMER. 17 

as the attenuated, bent form of the young 
devotee was entering a fly. ]\Iaude drew up 
her horse, spoke saucily to Robert, shook 
hands with ]\lostyn, made friendly enquiries 
after his health, regretted seeing him look so 
ill. Then, with an au revoir till the evening, 
when she counted on the pleasure of meeting 
again, she rode on, with a speed that astonished 
her groom, who was lost in amazement at 
" that there rum gentleman." 

Little Lucy Aylmer was ready to receive 
Hubert on his arrival, having* banished her 
baby to the care of the Miss Perkins, who had 
carried " Master Aylmer" triumphantly off to 
spend the evening at the farm. Good Lucy ! 
at the expense of her own pleasure, she 
determined Hubert's first evening should not 
be disturbed by little Harry's presence. She 
greeted Hubert kindly, then hastened to have 
a sumptuous tea spread beneath the elms on 
the lawn, hoping he would forget to fast that 
day. Every imaginable country dainty her 
thoughtfulness could devise, she prepared and 
placed with her own hands, and decorated 
with flowers to tempt the frail-looking guest, 
whose coming she had dreaded, but whose 



18 LUCY AYLMER. 

first appearance called forth all the pitying 
feelings of that tender heart ; and she formed 
numberless plans for his comfort and happi- 
ness, trusting that his visit might bring a httle 
bloom into his hollow, pallid cheeks, and some 
vigour into his form. He spent the two first 
hours after his arrival in Robert's study ; and 
when the bustle of preparation was over, 
Lucy sat patiently at the tea-table in her 
snowy white dress ornamented with a bou- 
quet of blue nemophida, awaiting their arrival. 
But Maude was before them, and her roguish 
eyes danced with glee as she recounted to 
Lucy her afternoon's rencontre. She was 
dressed with unusual care — in a pink and 
white dress, a wreath of ivy round her dark 
hair. She told Lucy she had passed a whole 
hour studying head-dresses ; and ivy made 
the most effect. 

Lucy was still admiring her beautiful sister, 
when Hubert Mostyn and her husband crossed 
the lawn. Maude rose ; welcomed Hubert to 
Forsted ; and, after watching where he would 
choose his place, established herself by his 
side. Robert looked rather uncomfortable ; and 
Hubert Mostyn devoutly fixed his large eyes 



LUCY AYLMER. 19 

on the ground, with the resolute determi- 
nation of not noticing the beautiful girl by 
his side. 

Lucy dispensed tea and sweet smiles, and 
joined with Maude in pressing her home-made 
deUcacies on the self-denying brother ; but 
not one morsel would he touch, though he 
looked fainting from his long fast. Lucy 
was so distressed, that actually the tears stood 
in her soft eyes ; and she was just beginning 
to hope he would not fall ill at the vicarage, 
and wonder if the Miss Perkins were taking 
good care of her baby, when the gate across 
the lawn swung to. Maude gave an ex- 
clamation of surprise, while the colour mounted 
up to her high forehead. With rapid strides, 
Cecil Erresford crossed the lawn after his 
long absence, looking so handsome and manly, 
that, as he passed Mostyn to greet the little 
wife, the brother of St. Margaret's seemed 
crushed beneath the weight of his shadow. 
Cecil looked around beamingly upon them 
all ; begged them not to disturb their happy 
circle ; and when all the greetings were gone 
through, he sat down amongst them. He 
seemed much pleased to find himself there 



20 LUCY AYLMER. 

again ; and not even Hubert's automaton 
presence disconcerted him. Maude entirely- 
abandoned her meditated flirtation * with 
Robert's friend, and relapsed into what 
was, for her, great quietude; until Cecil 
turned and related peculiarly to her a 
number of Yankee anecdotes, when all 
her vivacity returned. And Hubert Mos- 
tyn was heard to sigh — perhaps over his 
own youth's brightness which had fled and 
gone for ever, crushed by the false auste- 
rities of his life. Suddenly, Cecil looked 
around, and asked Lucy where she kept 
his godson. 

"In exile!" replied Maude, "Lu, letme 
go and fetch him." 

Lucy looked at Hubert appealingly; but 
those large grey eyes rested ever on the 
ground. 

" Mr. Mostyn, my sister has imbibed an 
idea that you do not like children," Maude 
began, in spite of Robert's remonstrating 
looks. 

Hubert Mostyn said he was extremely 
sorry — he seemed addressing the grass. Would 
he object if Maude fetched her little nephew ? 



LUCY AYLMER. 21 

Hubert told the grass he should be glad to see 
him. That was all Maude needed, and in two 
minutes more, she was going towards the 
gate. Cecil inspired by some sudden resolu- 
tion, rushed after her ; and down the shady 
lane they went, side by side, the sun shining 
in among the interlaced branches of the trees 
on Maude's head and its long ivy wreath. 
Lucy looked longingly after them, as she 
poured Hubert out his sixth cup of tea, and 
became convinced he tvas going to have a 
fever. Cecil gazed admiringly at the blooming 
Maude, and regretted, with great gallantry, 
that he had not an umbrella to hold over her. 
Maude declared she liked the sun, then asked 
how he thought Lucy looked. 

" Exactly as I left her," he replied. " It 
will take many, many years to alter the depth 
of calmness and peacefulness on that sweet 
face ; but w^hat can induce Robert to bring 
that eccentric being to his house ?" 

" Oh ! he is a peculiar pet of Robert's. I 
think he venerates him as much as Lady Anne 
did." 

'' I hoped he had given up that set. I can- 
not see w^hat he wants with them." 



22 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Robert is soaring slightly high himself," 
replied Maude, laughing at the grave expres- 
sion on Cecil's face. Cecil turned towards her 
anxiously as she spoke. " Oh ! do not look 
alarmed,'' Maude said. " Robert does no harm ; 
he only perpetrates a few peculiarities in 
church sometimes. The people have become 
accustomed to them, and those who still 
dislike them go elsewhere." 

" Ah ! has it come to that ?" said Cecil, 
gravely. " I always said Mostyn was a bad 
companion for him. But where are we going. 
Miss Neville?" 

" To Perkins' farm. Lucy made over little 
Harry to the girls for the evening, for fear 
Mr. Mostyn should betake himself to fainting 
at the sight of the child." Maude fancied 
Cecil muttered Mostyn's name in connection 
with the word ' fool,' but she was not 
certain. 

"Does Mrs. Aylmer like Mostyn?" Cecil 
asked. 

" She endures him," Maude replied. 

" Ah ! I thought so. I must look to Robert. 
I cannot let him take up with that set : he is 
much too good for them." 



LUCY AYLMER. 23 

" So I tell him ; but he thinks Mr. Mostyn 
is akin to perfection !'* said Maude. 

" Robert is ten times the better fellow of 
the two : but how goes it with your father ?" 

" Oh, papa is always bonnie ! he has gone 
to Dyke Moor to-day ;" then recalling to mind 
Cecil's advice two years ago, she added, 
"papa cannot live without hunting — it is 
part of his nature." 

" Ah ! I suppose so ; but do you still 
accompany him sometimes, Miss Neville ?" 

" I ? oh, no ! my first hunt was my last. 
I always remembered what you advised me, 
and have indeed never led papa to it, Mr. 
Erresford," replied Maude, with the utmost 
frankness. 

" 1 am glad to hear you say so," was Cecil's 
rejoinder. "How natural Forsted looks 
again, everything in statu quo, even the willow 
pond half dried up, as it always is at this 
time of the year," he added. 

" The Castle is very desolate," said Maude. 
" Is it not going to be inhabited again ?" 

" I fear my mother will never choose it as a 
residence. Neither she nor Anne has any wish 
to return." 



24 LUCY AYLMER. 

*' Is it true, Lady Anne is going to enter 
the Roman Catholic Church ?" Maude asked, 
but repented the question immediately after, 
for Cecil's pleasant expression changed to one 
sadly grave, as he replied : 

" I hope it is only report ; but neither of 
my sisters reposes any confidence in me." 
Cecil threw back his head as if to reheve 
himself from a weight of care — then returned 
his own peculiar smile, and Maude thought 
among the many people she had seen, none 
were so handsome as he 1 

Perkins' farm was before them, a great 
low, gable-ended building, with an air of 
snugness and comfort about it, and a trim 
garden in the front, at the gate whereof, two 
damsels smartly attired were standing, one 
dancing a baby at the other. The instant they 
caught sight of Cecil, both disappeared with 
a marvellous rapidity which set Maude 
laughing ; however, when Cecil was ushered 
into the best parlour, after a little delay, the 
young ladies made their appearance, as if they 
had not been seen before, blushing and 
simpering, and very much disappointed at 
losing " Master Aylmer," whom Cecil carried 



LUCY AYLMER. 25 

back to the vicarage; the ]\Iiss Perkins 
watching his tall figure side by side with 
Maude ; and the short Miss Perkins tiptoeing 
over her sister's shoulder, was heard more 
than once to call it " a case." Though what 
she meant by this expression, was best known 
to herself. But Cecil Erresford thought the 
remainder of that evening, that it was a 
" case " to be sorry for — that his dear friend 
and former protege should have fallen into the 
hands of Hubert Mostyn. 

It seemed fated that people should be- 
come ill at the vicarage. Not two years 
before, Lady Flora had passed weeks there 
between life and death, and was only restored 
through the careful nursing of Lucy Aylmer. 

Now, Hubert Mostyn, completely broken 
in health, by the long years of austerities, 
and suffering from an intermittent fever, in- 
stead of three weeks, was detained as many 
months under Robert's roof. 

The young vicar was unremitting in his 
attention to liis guest ; indeed, so much time 
did he devote to reading, conversing, and 
otherwise amusing his sick friend, that the 
little wife began to grow dull and miss his 

VOL. III. c 



26 LUCY AYLMER. 

society. In these autumn months was also 
the beginning of an occasional sadness, which 
almost in spite of herself, crept over her. 
No one noticed it but Cecil, and he traced 
it to its source — the source from whence 
sadness should least have come to the little 
wife — her husband ! 

Ah ! the brother of St. Margaret's had fallen 
ill at Porsted to some purpose. He had taught 
Robert to fast on Fridays as well as himself ; 
he had taught Robert to observe a rigid for- 
mality of speech and manner, greatly at variance 
with his natural temperament ; he had taught 
him to be reserved to his little wife ! 

Hubert Mostyn thought nothing of Lucy's 
religion. Austere, it certainly was not — formal 
it was not — but conscientiously she fulfilled 
her duty towards all — even to her husband's 
strange guests ; and for Robert, she ever 
wore the serenest smiles, ever had the 
most winning words. And surely his home 
was very sweet to him ; it was always wont to 
be so. But time rapidly sped on, and Hubert 
was taken back convalescent to St. Margaret's 
by Robert, who remained with the fraternity 
nearly a week, and returned home looking 



LUCY AYLMEU. 27 

very tight and straight in his dress, and 
bereft of the brown curls which gave such a . 
boyish, pleasing look, to his refined coun- 
tenance. Lucy wept in secret over the curls, 
but not one word of remark did she make to 
Robert — nay, she even gravely took his part, 
when Maude laughed at him. 

The Squire seemed very much perturbed in 
mind, having become possessed of the idea, 
that Robert was meditating something that 
would be of harm to Lucy, either enroling 
himself among St. Margaret's brotherhood, or 
else leaving the Protestant church altogether. 
Therefore it w^as that the Squire remonstrated 
mth his son-in-law, but to no eficct. The 
Sunday after his return from St. Margaret's, 
Robert intoned the whole service in a way 
which utterly spoiled his hitherto clear and 
audible voice. He thought proper likewise 
to read the Litany every morning at the 
unheard-of hour of half-past seven ; after which 
he called together the village boys, and 
selected ten with the best voices and trained 
in the art of chanting, and had them clothed 
as choristers. The children had learnt nicely 

c 2 



28 LUCY AYLMER. 

under Lucy's pleasant tuition the usual 
chants, for since Lady Anne's departure she 
had taken them in hand. But when it came 
to the whole of the psalms and an anthem 
besides, there happened a dreadful break 
down — a general titter ran round the church, 
which so abashed the newly formed choir, 
that they resolutely declined all share in the 
vocal part of the service, which again fell to 
Lucy's management. 

Poor Lucy ! for the first time her husband 
found fault with her singing, and called it a 
conventicle style ! disapproved altogether of 
the choice of her tunes — and begged the loan 
of some of the choristers from St. Margaret's 
for one Sunday, to let the congregation know 
what real church music was. And certainly 
the effect was sweet — the low, melodious 
voices and perfect time. But one or two 
poor people told Lucy afterw^ards so much 
singing spoiled the prayers, and they did 
not dare join themselves in such fine music ! 
All the complaints were poured upon Lucy ; 
as if, sweet child, she could help her hus- 
band being led into absurdities by Hubert 



LUCY AYLMER. 29 

Mostyn, who was prompted by Lady Anne, 
under the plea of having the welfare of 
Forsted at heart. 

Cecil Erresford saw Robert's changes with 
regret, and expostulated with him in his 
kindest way; but Robert's only reply was, 
he felt convinced he was doing right ; and 
daily did Forsted's vicar become more 
changed. 



30 LUCY ATLMER. 



CHAPTER 11. 

She neither -weeps, 
Nor sighs, nor groans ; too strong her agony 
For outward sign of anguish, and for prayer 
Too liopeless was the ill ; and though, at times. 
The pious exclamation past her lips, 
Thy will be done ! Yet was that utterance 
Rather the breathing of a broken heart. 
Than of a soul resigned. 



SOUTHEY. 



Christmas had come round again with a 
depth of snow hitherto almost unheard of in 
the annals of Worsted. There were great drifts 
on the hill-sides, wherein, if any one fell, 
they stood a good chance of never emerging ; 
and every pond in the neighbourhood was 
frozen inches deep. 

Maude was learning to skate on the 
Castle lake with Cecil Erresford as her in- 



LrCY AYLMER. 31 

structor — he was frequently at Forsted now. 
Lucy sometimes came to look on, and was 
persuaded by Maude to venture a few steps 
on the ice; but Lucy's interest in country 
pastimes had gone ; her whole soul was 
wrapped up now in the extraordinary change 
which had taken place in her husband. Six 
months had turned the once happy, light- 
hearted Robert into a gloomy ascetic. 

He had enrolled himself among the brother- 
hood of St. Margaret's, as a sort of out mem- 
ber; and two or three days of each week 
were spent away from the two whose interests 
ought to have been nearest his heart — his 
parish and his wife. The former murmured 
and rebelled, threatened to appeal to the 
Bishop ; the latter quietly bore the first trials 
that had ever dawned on that young heart. 
She who had comforted Lady Mora, needed 
comfort now herself; but it came not. Com- 
plaints she heard on all sides without having 
one truthful vindication to ofier in favour of 
her husband. Her only refuge was silence. 

Thus it came about that the holy season 
of Christmas was not a happy one to Lucy 
Aylmer; for though her father's love and 



32 LUCY AYLMER. 

Maude's were dear to her, no earthly thing 
could compensate for her husband's frequent 
absence, and shrinking from her when at 
home. 

It was Twelfth Night, and Lucy had re- 
fused to join a party at Friarsford, because 
her husband, who was then at St. Margaret's, 
had promised to return that evening. On 
leaving Lucy, two or three days before, he 
had shown some of his foraier warmth, and 
the little wife felt hopeful. 

She made a large cheerful fire in her com- 
fortable drawing-room, drew closely the 
warm red curtains ; and placing her husband's 
chair by the fire, and his slippers in the 
fender, she sat down to her work by the table. 
Having turned up the lamp, and sent a general 
brightness through the room, Lucy looked 
around to see if everything wore a pleasant 
aspect to cheer her dear traveller on entering ; 
and even her neat eye was satisfied. Lucy 
herself wore a new dress of Robert's favourite 
colour, light blue, to surprise him — and her 
soft shining hair was arranged with more 
than usual care ; nnd the little wife's unruffled 
sweetness of countenance ought to have been 



LUCY AYLMER. 33 

an attraction to a husband coming from the 
dreary St. Margaret's Priory and gloomy 
brotherhood. 

Little Harry slept peacefully in his nursery ; 
and Lucy was occupied braiding a pehsse for 
him of the same material as her pretty bright 
dress ; and as she worked, she sang low to 
herself old familiar songs, which carried her 
back to the past, with all its sweet recollec- 
tions — the first seventeen years of her life, 
how radiant, how unclouded, all gladdened 
by the intense love of her father and Maude. 
Then came the devotion of her husband, and 
the joyousness of her first two years of wedded 
life — her every wish, her every heart's desire 
fulfilled — and all in all to her were her hus- 
band and her little child. But after this clouds 
came one by one on the horizon of her happi- 
ness, and by-and-bye they condensed and 
hung heavily over her head — but as yet not 
one had burst ! Her own sweet patience, trust 
and love had warded them ofi"; and each day 
she lived in hope that they would disperse, 
and restore to her her former bright life. She 
often said to herself, "when the night is 
darkest, the stars shine forth ;" and though 

c 3 



34 LUCY AYLMER. 

the stars were long in coming, she never 
ceased in untiring patience to look for 
them. 

All ! as she drew back the curtain that the 
light might meet her weary husband's eye, 
she was a star herself ; yet she shone in the 
firmament of her holiness and goodness, like 
a beacon from which the traveller turns his 
gaze and will not see the steady, unwavering 
Hght, which might, otherwise, have saved him 
from the quicksands. 

Lucy Aylmer worked on ; sang on ; only 
occasionally stopping to go to the window 
and peer out into the darkness — but no Ro- 
bert came. She grew anxious — it was Satur- 
day night, and he never failed to come home 
for his Sunday duty. Lucy went to the hall 
door: a gust of wind howled and danced 
around her in a kind of wild fury, and drove 
snow flakes against her. She could see 
nothing but the tall elm on the lawn, looking 
like a great white ghost — she could hear 
nothing but the heavy, dull sound of the 
storm, as it were grinding the air. She shook 
and trembled with cold ; and shutting the 
door against the wind, which battled with 



LUCY AYLMER. 35 

her, she went back to her soUtude, and won- 
dered where her beloved Robert was. The 
tea-things had been on the table nearly three 
hours ; it would soon be nine o'clock, the time 
the last train from Ackington reached Bran- 
stone. 

Lucy tried to be calm and quiet for another 
hour, making allowances for the depth of 
snow and the difficulty of travelling. But 
the minutes passed on and on, slowly, drag- 
gingly to the little wife longing, hoping, 
fearing for her absent husband. At ten 
o'clock, Lucy was worked up to a kind of 
quiet despair, and went up to the nursery. 
Her child slumbered on in sweet unconscious- 
ness of his mother's anxiety ; she bent over 
him, and kissed him as he slept. The nurse 
who was working by the fire, said in a tone 
of alarm : 

" What ever can have come to master to- 
night, ma'am?" 

" The snow is so very deep, the train may 
have been delayed," Lucy said; "but he has 
never been so late before, though last Satur- 
day it was equally stormy." 



36 LUCY AYLMER. 

" There may not be any flys out to-night," 
the nurse suggested. 

" I think I shall put on my thick cloak, 
and go up to the Manor House. I know papa 
would send the dog-cart to Branstone." 

" Lor, ma'am ! why you would be blown 
away !" exclaimed the nurse, eyeing her 
mistress's slight little figure with a look of 
alarm. 

" I must do something," Lucy said. " I feel 
as if T could not bear this suspense." 

" Oh, but ma'am ! I could not hear of your 
going out. You'd be blown down in the snow 
and buried there !" the nurse said in a tone 
of respectful authority. 

Lucy stood looking at the fire some minutes 
in silence, then slowly went away. Resolute 
in her purpose, she wrapt herself up in a 
large cloak, whose hood she turned over her 
head ; then enveloping her feet in snow-boots, 
lantern in hand, noiselessly the little wife 
glided out from her warm, snug house, into 
the snow storm. 

It was such a dreadful night, she dared not 
ask her servants to go out; but she thought 



LUCY AYLMER. 37 

no weather too bad to brave for the husband, 
who neglected and shunned her. With all 
her strength, she baffled against the storm, 
twice falling in the snow before she reached 
her own gate. Though men had been employed 
all day in clearing the lane, the snow had 
collected ancle deep since dark ; but on went 
the brave Lucy holding before her the glim- 
mering lantern, and praying as she went for 
her misguided husband. 

The Squire was snoring by the fire in his 
arm-chair, after his evening's jorum of brandy 
and water. Maude sat on the hearth-rug 
reading a very horrid story, with the wind howl- 
ing discordantly down the wide old chimney, 
when the house bell rang faintly. Some one 
was on the point of being murdered in 
Maude's book ; and at the low, mysterious 
bell, she started up, thinking it part of the 
book, not reality, so unusual was the sound at 
that late hour, and in such a dreadful night. 
Stillness succeeded the ring, and Maude re- 
turned to her book, determining it to be 
imagination, when again the bell sounded 
louder than before. The Squire's snoring 
suddenly came to an end, but he continued 



38 LUCY AYLMER. 

to sleep heavily. Maude darted up, and 
opening the door a little way, peeped through 
it. She watched Morris cross the hall, heard 
him with tiresome slowness withdraw the 
bolts and bars of the ponderous door; she 
saw him start back with surprise, when a 
little figure white from head to foot and holding 
in one hand an extinguished lantern, dropped 
breathlessly down on a chair. In an instant, 
Maude had darted forward and knelt on the 
floor at her sister's feet, exclaiming : " Oh, 
my darling child !" Lucy snailed on her, but 
could not speak for some minutes. " My 
poor dear," Maude went on in an indignant 
tone, as she pulled off her sister's heavy cloak 
and wet boots, "my darling ! what is the 
matter ?" Lucy gasped painfully for breath, 
then came the words uttered in a tone of 
misery. 

" He has not come home !" 

" Sweetest, he is not here," Maude 
replied. 

" We must send," Lucy said. " Where 
is papa?" 

Rubbing his eyes, and only half awake, the 
Squire stood on the threshold of the drawing- 



LUCY AYLMER. 39 

room, gazing dreamily at his young daughters : 
presently he exclaimed, " Bless my heart 
alive ! Lucy bird, what brought you here ?" 

" Oh, papa ! Robert has not come home," 
Lucy replied, as she put her arm round 
Maude's neck, and rested her head on her 
shoulder. 

" I wish that Priory would all come to rack 
and ruin ! What on earth do men make such 
fools of themselves for ?" 

" Oh, papa it is the storm ! depend upon 
it, it is the storm. He never remained away 
yet on Sunday." 

" Not come to that yet 1" grumbled the 
Squire; "and so you, precious httle thing, 
walked all through the snow to enquire after 
that good-for-nothing husband of yours 1" The 
Squire took her up in his arms, and carrying 
her into the dra^dng-room deposited her in 
his arm-chair. 

Lucy looked bewildered and said meekly, 
" Do not think of me, papa ! think of him. He 
may be lost in the snow !" 

" I suppose you want me to go and look 
for him. He is not worthy of such a wife ! 
When I was a young man, 1 would have 



40 LUCY AYLMER. 

blown my brains, out, sooner than desert my 
Lucy as he does his /" 

Maude made signs that he was only dis- 
tressing Lucy, who said in her gentle tones 
of ready excuse, "Dear papa, he has never 
left me one Sunday yet. He mut be at 
Branstone, perhaps even now walking home. 
Oh, it is such a dreadful night !" 

" And yet my poor httle girl walked 
through it all. Bless my heart alive, how you 
tremble ! Well, I'll go to Branstone, if we can 
get a horse to drag us along through the 
snow. Now keep yourself quiet, my pretty 
one ; and if he is to be found, I'll bring him 
home." 

Lucy poured thanks upon her father, w^ho 
muttered when he got out into the hall, " the 
young rascal — to desert her like this !" Lucy 
saw her father off, well covered with wraps, and 
watched the dog- cart drive slowly away, 
shivering and trembling, till Maude made 
her come back to the lire and the arm-chair, 
where after listening eagerly for sounds, she 
at length, fell asleep. Maude sat silently 
watching the child-like face, a half-dried 
tear on her cheek, and an expression of re- 



LUCY AYLMER. 41 

signation on her sweet countenance, sad, 
yet beautiful to behold ; and Maude's proud 
lip curled, and she looked fiery enough to 
fight a host of Roberts. And then again, she 
glanced at her fair young sister, trials 
gathering around her so soon ; and though 
Maude struggled against them, tears of 
grief and anger swelled in her large dark 
eyes. 

Lucy did not sleep long ; the sound of 
the house bell awoke her. One of the servants 
from the Vicarage had come up to see after 
her mistress. Lucy hoped it w^as to tell of 
Robert's arrival, and a shade of great disap- 
pointment came across her sad face, when she 
learnt the real cause of the servant's arrival. 
Maude piled up fresh wood in the broad 
chimney, down wdiich the wind kept on 
sighing and whistling. 

Lucy wanted to go to the door, and again 
look out ; but Maude insisted on her remain- 
ing by the fire. So, restless and anxious, 
the little wife sat down on a footstool and 
laid her head wearily on Maude's lap, and 
talked in a low voice of the probability of 
her husband passing the night at Acking- 



42 LUCY AYLMER. 

ton, and coming home by an early train, in 
time for morning service. Then again she 
fancied he was somewhere in the snow : the 
drifts were so deep, and it was impossible 
to walk many steps together, she said, with- 
out falling. 

Maude praised her heroism for venturing 
out, while she scolded her playfully for being 
so rash. Lucy said, she could not think of 
herself while- he was out. Maude only 
wished Robert were as thoughtful of her 
happiness — he would not remain away so 
long at that wretched Priory. 

The fire went on burning with low, hissing 
sounds, as each fresh piece of wood caught 
the dying flame of the last. There was an 
intense, almost woeful silence throughout 
the house ; and outside at intervals, the dogs 
set up dismal bowlings. The old clock, on 
its tall pedestal in the hall, ticked loudly 
and monotonously, and the two young sisters 
sat alone in the great room with its dark 
pannelled pictures, over which deep shadows 
fell and sent a gloom along the walls. 
Maude absolutely shuddered as she called 
to mind the horrid parts of the story she 



LUCY AYLMER. 43 

had been readinp^, and lonpred for sometliino; 
to break tbe stillness. 

Lucy's heart beat with fear, but very dif- 
ferent from that of Maude's. The howlings of 
the dogs, the ticking of the great clock, the 
shadows were to her as if they did not exist ; 
every nerve was strained in acute anxiety 
for her husband's return. She had relapsed 
into watchful silence, except when now and 
then, she uttered the words : " Hark ! what 
is that?" in a low, anxious voice that made 
Maude long for some pretext to ring the 
bell for Morris ; but shame at her own fears 
kept her still, looking down on the fair head 
resting on her lap. 

And so died out the week's last day ; and 
even St. Walburga's twelve distinct chimes 
following each other slowly, had something 
awful in them. 

Lucy started. Maude was growing terribly 
nervous, and was thinking over the murder 
scene in her book. 

" Maude, dear, it is Sunday morning," 
Lucy said. 

" Yes, darling ! does not the fire want 
replenishing ?" 



44 LUCY AYLMER. 

" No, dear, the large log is not half burnt 
out." 

" Had I not better ring for some candles — 
the lamp is going out ?" said Maude. 

" It cannot be, dear. Morris wound it up 
just after I came in — oh ! Maude, this is a 
sad commencement of Sunday morning !" 

" The day may terminate better than it 
begins, sweet." 

" Oh ! I hope it will. I wish I could 
trust more. I know God will guide my 
Robert's feet wherever it is safest, and yet I 
do feel anxious." 

" It is natural, love ; but depend upon it, 
the brothers have persuaded Robert to re- 
main at the Priory." 

" Not unless he is ill. The out-brothers 
who have duty, always leave. And Robert's 
party are so punctual, so regardless of health 
and everything secular 1" 

"But, dear Lucy, think of the weather. 
This night is one in a thousand." 

" It is — it is !" Lucy murmured. " Oh ! if 
he were only what he was, then I could bear 
it better. But to lose him so, when he has 
gone all away from the real, only path — " 



LUCY AYLMER. 45 

Lucy said this in a voice scarcely audible, 
and shuddered at her thoughts. Maude 
had no comfort to give, but Lucy continued : 
*' Maude, darling, do repeat a hymn to me, 
one we used to know long ago. I cannot 
bear my thoughts, they are so repining." 

Maude's mind was so confused, she could 
remember nothing but the " Evening Hymn ;" 
and just as she commenced it, the back door 
swung to, then the passage door, and the 
Squire's well-known tread sounded on the 
floor. 

Lucy started to her feet — her father was 
alone ! He was clapping his hands together 
to thaw them ; but when Lucy came out to 
him, he put his arras round her and kissed 
her, and said it was all right — the station- 
master assured him Mr. Aylmer had never 
passed the platform, and there was scarcely a 
passenger by any of the down trains. 

"Depend upon it, little woman. Bob and 
the holy brothers are fast asleep and snoring ; 
and Sunday's train will bring him in all safe 
and sound." 

Lucy hoped so, and drew her father to 



46 LUCY AYLMER. 

the fire, and kneeling down by him, warmed 
his hands. 

" Lor bless me, if ever there was such a 
night !" said the Squire, " James and I had 
to take the reins alternately, while the other 
thawed his hands. It took me more than an 
hour to get to Branstone, and then the station 
gates were shut, and Billy Rogers put out 
hig head in his night cap, and asked what was 
the row, in a regular growling tone. But when 
I said I came from Mrs. Aylmer, my eye ! he 
came round mighty civil ; he was an old 
admirer of yours, little Lu ! I would rather 
marry a station-master than a parson. But, 
never mind, the parson will turn up all right 
soon. He'll tire out of living on bread and 
vegetables,- and praying all night long in some 
cold chapel." 

Lucy tried to smile, and Maude who was 
becoming sleepy, and thought there was a 
needless fuss about Robert, who must be quite 
safe at St. Margaret's and would make his 
appearance on the morrow, made Lucy retire 
to rest, promising she should return home 
early in the morning. As soon as it was 



LUCY AYLMER. 47 

light, Lucy was up. The storm had subsided 
and a severe frost hardened the snow. Lucy 
set forth home with a heavy heart — her first 
care was to send a messenger to Friarsford to 
beg Mr. Lewis to spare his curate, so that 
in case of Robert's non-arrival, everything 
might go on just as usual, and create no 
surprise. At eight, the church bells rang 
forth their early peal — reminding Lucy, 
strangely, sadly of her wedding-day, when her 
heart was so hght and untroubled, she could 
have sung for joy ; and now, she might well 
have sat down and wept ! But she had no 
time to weep — she had more hope than the 
previous night — There was a bright sunshine 
spread over the earth ghstening radiantly on 
the snow, and it seemed to send its rays into 
her heart. She prepared breakfast, sent a 
servant to the train, then waited patiently her 
husband's arrival. But the news of Robert's 
absence had spread country wise, all over the 
village ; and one person after another came up 
to the vicarage with enquiries after Mr. 
Aylmer, and if there was to be any service. 
Lucy had enough to do. The farmers expected 
an audience ; and Lucy's patience was sorely 



48 LUCY AYLMER. 

tried by their idle questioning, to which her 
unvarying reply was, " Mr. Aylmer was doubt- 
less detained by the storm ; but that a 
substitute had been provided." About ten 
o'clock, Cecil Erresford made his appearance, 
not to ask questions : he understood it all 
instantly — but to volunteer a journey to St. 
Margaret's to learn the real state of the case, 
and, if possible, ease Lucy's mind — and his 
own too. Por not commonly anxious was he 
at Robert's prolonged absence. Lucy did not 
know how to feel grateful enough to Cecil 
for his kindness. She thought now she should 
know all ; and felt her heart less heavy when 
she saw him turn his horse's head towards 
Branstone. At a little before eleven, Lucy 
gave up every hope of Robert's appearing in 
time for service, and was not a little glad to 
see Mr. Lewis coming up the garden. Of 
course, he too wanted an explanation of 
Robert's absence, and looked grave enough on 
learning how many days he had been away at 
the Ackington brotherhood. His heart was full 
of pity for the patient enduring Lucy, and he 
took her under his especial protection to 
church. Lucy shd in through the vestry to 



LUCY AYLMER. 49 

avoid meeting any of the villagers, and when 
alone in her own pew her forced calmness 
gave way, and she cried bitterly. 

The new chaunts were ill sung without 
Robert to lead them ; and the children were all 
whispering among themselves conjectures as 
to what " our paarson had come to ?" Mr. 
Lewis preached a very solemn sermon, the 
very opposite in doctrine to Robert's sleepy 
high church discourses ; and the farmers 
nodded approvingly, and called it the " right 
sort of thing," when they spoke with their 
neighbours in the churchyard after the service 
was over, and drew comparisons which 
were not much in Robert's favour. All this 
Lucy heard, and had to hear. Poor httle 
wife ! her husband seemed dearer to her now 
than he had ever been : she could think of 
nought else, though throughout dinner and 
till the quarter bells chimed for afternoon 
service, she tried to do her best in entertaining 
Mr. Lewis. Every one was very kind, scru- 
pulously kind to Lucy : the farmers volunteered 
their services to go to St. Margaret's to see 
after the parson ; and Lord De Walden, who 
was now a resident at the Castle, a quiet, 

VOL. III. D 



50 LUCY ATLMEK. 

timid young man, sent to Lucy, asking 
whether he coukl be of any use to her ? The 
Squire got a fit of restless indignation, and rode 
off to Branstone to meet Cecil — Maude came 
down to Lucy to accompany her to church. 

But Lucy remained at home, anxiously 
awaiting Cecil, whom she expected to retm'n 
about four o'clock. The Sunday bells rung 
out their peal ; and when they had died away, 
and the villagers ceased flocking past her 
gate to church, Lucy fetched down her baby, 
and walked a little way along the road leading 
to Branstone, where the declining sun was 
shedding its parting rays. The road was 
silent and deserted, and no voices broke 
the stillness, but those of Lucy and her 
little child, who called in his eager baby 
voice, " Papa ! papa !" The wind blew 
frostily along ; and Lucy feared the cold 
for her child. Reluctantly she returned 
to her solitary home. Her pretty, snug 
drawing-room looked desolate. She drew 
Robert's arm-chair towards the fire, hoping 
almost against hope that Cecil would bring 
him back. 

The sun set ; darkness began to steal 



LUCY AYLMER. 51 

forth. Little Harry slept soundly on a pile 
of cushions. Lucy shaded her face from 
the fire, and read the parable of the Prodigal 
Son out of the neglected Bible of her poor 
Robert, which she had given him long ago. 
It was a christening Sunday ; there were 
several children to be baptised, and the 
congregation were late in coming home. A 
crescent moon rose faintly, and played on the 
sparkling snow. The trees on the lawn, 
cold and shrouded things, peeped in at the 
windows on that desolate young wife, who had 
fallen into a slumber whilst praying for her 
husband. 

Slowly a horseman rode along Branstone 
Hill ; and a great care was on his mind. The 
cold wind stole around him, and the frost 
looked bitterly at him. But neither did he 
notice ; his thoughts were preoccupied with 
a strange, a startling theme. It haunts him 
as on he guides his horse along the slippery 
road, and gathers on him. It shades his 
brow as he enters the vicarage lane. The 
small crescent moon regards him in gentle 
wonder ; but he thinks not of her. He leads 
his horse round to Farmer Perkins' stable, 

D 2 

UNIVERSITY OF 

ILLINOIS library: 



52 



LUCY AYLMER. 



and asks him to take care of it. He is 
assailed by a volley of questions, which he 
answers slowly, unsatisfactorily. The farmer 
watches him from over the gate, and beholds 
Cecil enters the vicarage — the farmer goes 
in, and imparts the news to his family. 
The short Miss Perkins becomes shghtly 
hysterical, and sobs : 

" Oh ! our parson's dead !" 

There is very little light now in the vicarage 
windows ; and the snow scene without looks 
cruel in its whiteness. St. Walburga's chimes 
have long since gone six ; and the farmers 
and labourers are comfortable by their fire- 
sides ; and at the cottages of the newly 
baptised infants, there are little friendly 
gatherings. There is a room at the vica- 
rage where nothing has entered for the last 
half hour but the strugghng beams of the 
full moon on the floor. There kneels a small, 
childish figure ; and a fair head, whereon fall 
the moonbeams, rests heavily against the side 
of the bed. Her hands are clasped above her 
head ; and she neither weeps nor prays. 
Something has fallen on her, and seems to 
crush her beneath its weight ! 



LUCY AYLMER. 



CHAPTER III. 

My flower, my blighted flower ! thou that wert made 
For the kind fostering of sweet summer airs, 
How hath the storm been with thee ! 



HEMANS. 



Robert Aylmer had left St. Margarets 
at the usual hour. Hubert Mostyn assured 
Cecil, that he had gone mth the intention of 
returning home ; he had even misled the 
brotherhood. He had been seen by the 
station-master at Ackington, enter an up- 
train, after having taken a first-class ticket to 
London ; he had been seen at Paddington, 
to alight : one of the porters formerly in 
Lord De Walden's service, had carried his 
carpet-bag for him to a cab — but beyond 
that the vicar (jf Porsted was not to 
be traced. Cecil left nothing untried. He 



54 LUCY AYLMER. 

went himself to the Paddington Station, ex- 
pressly to procure the last information : he 
wrote to various friends — ^made personal en- 
quiries — but in vain. 

The first shock of Lucy's grief, at finding 
her husband had deserted her, gradually sub- 
sided ; and wdth an energy of w^hich no one 
thought her capable, she suggested and 
planned various means, by which she imagined 
he might be traced. At last, an idea presented 
itself to her of discovering whether or no he 
had left England, by enquiring at the various 
consulates, if at such a period, a passport had 
been made out in his name. 

Cecil highly approved of the thought, and 
at once started for London, where, after a 
little trouble, he ascertained Robert had 
received a passport for Paris, two days after 
his disappearance from Ackington. Gladly 
did Cecil communicate the intelligence to the 
Manor, where Lucy had removed ; and with- 
out returning to the Castle, Cecil instantly 
started for Paris, and from Paris the unweary- 
ing friend traced from halting-place to 
halting-place Worsted's vicar, till at last Rome 
received him, as she has received many a once 



LUCY ATLMER. OD 

good and devoted son of England's church, in 
this our nineteenth century. But at Rome Cecil's 
search suddenly came to an end, and weeks 
of untiring patience were expended but to no 
purpose. Neither in Rome, nor beyond Rome, 
was Robert to be heard of ; his passport lay at 
the office, but his person was not traceable in 
church, promenade, hotel, or lodging. Was 
it possible the deluded young man had met 
with an early and untimely death ? Every 
register was searched — Robert Aylmer still 
lived. The remainder of January and part 
February, Cecil passed in the city of Popery, 
whose crafts had blinded and deluded the 
friend whom Cecil sought, but sought iir 
vain. 

In February, he returned to his seat in 
Parliament, where the new member for 
Arminster, also astonished the House by his 
eloquence; the brothers-in-law were so dif- 
ferent, so opposite, Cecil's upright cheerful 
looks outshining Archer's dark, cloudy brow, 
even as Archer's eloquence outshone his. 

Lady Flora had written many a sympathis- 
ing letter to Lucy, and Lucy had sent many a 
sympathising letter to Flora, who, with a hus- 



56 LUCY AYLMER. 

band many envied, riches many longed after, 
rank, some would have given worlds to obtain, 
was yet even more to be pitied than Lucy. 

Augusta Neville, was at May-Fair, by 
especial invitation, and was admired and 
sought after, still throwing the Lady Flora 
Tyrrell completely into the shade ; but Flora 
was glad she was there : her husband's temper 
was ever subdued by his sister's presence. 

The Squire hunted on. to drown the 
thought of his Lucy's sorrow, which was 
very grievous to him ; and he betted on and 
borrowed, until his last acre was in the power 
of his crafty brother. And Maude's life was 
devoted to Lucy and her little Harry. Lucy 
was sweet-tempered and mindful as ever of 
the happiness of others, but her hghtness of 
spirit, and enjoyment of hfe was gone. She 
never laughed now, and few but her child 
called up her smiles ; she was like a flower 
early bUghted by summer storm — and the 
Squire's handsome daughter grew so beauti- 
ful, so attractive, that she was the toast of 
the country, and many aspired eagerly after 
her. But all were refused, and it began to 
be rumoured that her sister's unhappiness had 



LUCY AYLMEE. 57 

set her against the thoughts of marrying. I 
wonder if the rumour were true ? 

March blew itself in, sunned itself out. 
April wept on the blossoms and trees, till 
May caught them from her tears, and laughed 
and smiled on them. June held a canopy of 
gold and azure o'er the earth, and brought 
bright tints then of many flowers — it brought 
too a tiny blossom into the old ancestral house 
of the Nevilles, which the parching, thirsty 
days of July saw brought to the font, and 
receive its father's name. 

It was a frail little blossom, and very dear 
to its mother's heart ; but when Augusta's 
harvest day came, and the earth rejoiced, the 
little Robert slept beneath the church's shade, 
and his mother strewed roses over his tiny 
grave. Thus eight months passed away since 
the stormy night when Robert forsook his 
wife, his child and his home. There was no 
new vicar appointed to Forsted. Cecil en- 
gaged a former tutor of his for a year to 
perform the duty, at the end of which time 
he hoped that something might be heard of 
Robert. The vicarage was unaltered ; the 

D 3 



58 LUCY AYLMER. 

curate lived there, and took care of the house, 
which Lucy had never entered since that 
dreadful Sunday, vrhen Maude came and 
carried her away. 

It was early on an August evening. Lucy 
sat by the open window of the drawing-room 
at the Manor, working for the poor, while 
Maude read to her — their Aunt was absent, 
though the Manor was nominally her home, 
yet she seldom honoured it by her presence. 
The Squire had not yet returned from his 
hunt. A letter was brought to Lucy from the 
Castle : it was from Lord De Walden, enclosing 
one from his mother dated " Rome," in 
which the Countess mentioned having met 
Mr. Aylmer many times at the Palace of the 
Marchesa Elmo, a friend of Lady Anne, and 
that Mr. Aylmer had become a Roman 
Catholic, which the Countess thought very 
shocking ! That was all she said on the subject. 
Maude watched attentively her sister's coun- 
tenance as she read and re-read the Countess's 
letter to her son — at last, Lucy looked up 
with a smile on her face, brighter than had 
been there for many a long day. 



LUCY ATLMER. 59 

" Maude dear, I am so thankful !" she 
exclaimed. 

" For what, darling ?" Maude asked ea- 
gerly. 

" Oh ! my prayers are answered now. I 
know where he is, and I can go to him !" 
Again her face glistened with some of its old 
brightness, as she gave the letter to her sister, 
Maude read it slowly, Lucy murmuring all 
the time. 

" Oh, this is good news ! this is good 
news !" 

" But, my darling, you do not really 
think of going ?" Maude exclaimed pre- 
sently. 

" Oh ! Maude dear, yes ! Think how sohtary 
he must be. I dare say he is longing for me 
even now, and perhaps is afraid to ask me to 
come — dear Robert !" and her eyes ghstened 
lovingly. 

Maude looked at her sister, and a strange 
indefinable feeling shot through her, a sort of 
fear for Lucy, whose goodness seemed too pure, 
too exalted for this every day world. 

" I shall take nurse and little Hariy — how 



60 LXJCY AYLMER. 

pleased Robert will be with him ! and then/' 
she added lowering her voice, " I can tell him 
of our darling in heaven." 

" But, Lucy, papa will never allow you to 
go without some one to take care of you. We 
could not permit it indeed." 

" You must not think me unkind, Maude, 
dearest sister, I would not appear so for the 
world ; but I can not have any one but little 
Harry. Robert might bear me — but, dearest, 
after all that has passed, other faces would 
seem like a reproach to him. I have not pained 
you, my Maude?" 

" Sweetest, no ! I understand all you mean ; 
but the fatigue of travelling, and the loneli- 
ness ?" 

"I could bear them both with such a 
reward at the end. Oh, Maude ! this is 
the brightest hour I have had for a long, long 
time !" 

Maude tried not to sigh, but one of those 
forebodings of evil which sometimes haunt 
us, seemed to say, if Lucy parted from them, 
they might never meet again. 

" Lucy, dear, the Countess does not mention 



LUCY ATLMER. 61 

Robert's place of residence, or anything about 
it. We ought to write for farther informa- 
tion," Maude said in a pesuasive tone. 

" Lady De Walden, doubtless, knows where 
he lives. When I reach Rome, she will tell me 
all I wish to learn." 

" But, my darling, you have never travelled 
alone before ?" 

" God will take care of me, wherever I am, 
my own dear ; I shall have no occasion to be 
afraid. You know I am pretty well acquainted 
with French and Itahan, thanks to Aunt 
Augusta ; how often she used to tell us we 
should find our studies useful ; how little we 
dreamt then what this winter would bring ! 
but it is all for the best, and I dare say the 
day will come when I shall see it so." 

" I trust the day will come when you will 
have your old happiness again, darling," 

Maude said fondlv. 

t/ 

" I feel as if it were near. There is joy yet 
in store for me. I shall have it in meeting 
my Robert, and in making him happy — and, 
perhaps, keeping him from greater harm ; but 
my greatest hope," she added with much 
sweetness, " is that Robert may learn to love 



62 LUCY AYLMER. 

the Bible again — and that he will learn to 
love me as he once did, in the days without a 
cloud — it seems difficult now ; but it may 
come about, and then — " The Squire's 
horse trotted up the walk. Lucy heard the 
sound and stopped speaking, so she did not 
finish her sentence of " then there would be 
no more happiness to wish for, it would be 
complete." She intended to have said this ; 
but instead she went out through the open 
window, and met her father on the lawn. He 
dismounted from his horse, held her in his 
arms, and kissed her calm face. 

" My own looks herself to-night," he said, 
"bright little gem!" the Squire kissed her 
again, and looked enquiringly at her — she 
drew her arm through his, and said : 

"Are you tired papa?" 

"No, Lucy bird, do you want to take a 
turn ?" 

" Yes, dear papa ! but wait for Maude." 
Maude came, and wrapping her sister in a 
shawl, held Lucy's hand in her's, as they 
walked linked together up and down the 
path between the shrubberies. The day had 
been intensely hot, and the evening was calm 



LUCY AYLMER. 63 

and still ; the flowers bent down by tlie heat, 
revived at the moistening of the crystal 
dew. 

" Papa dearest !" Lucy said, " you have 
loved me very much, and cared for me very 
much. But I must leave you." 

"Lucy, my child!" the Squire exclaimed 
in anxious tones of enquiry. 

" Yes, papa, I have heard to-day of Robert, 
and I must go to him — you will be glad when 
we are together again — will you not, dear 
^^^^ . 

" I don't understand it all," the Squire 
said, looking appeahngly at Maude. 

Maude had the Countess's letter in her 
hand, and she read aloud the paragraph con- 
cerning Robert. 

" Ah ! I thought so — I told him so years 
ago 1" the Squire exclaimed ; " and my poor 
Httle woman — what would you do in a land of 
papists ?" 

" They would not hurt me," Lucy said with 
a staid smile. 

" Let me write to him, and, perhaps, then 
the young gentleman will think better of him- 



64 LUCY AYLMER. 

self and come back — Erresford has left the 
living open." 

" Mr. Erresford has been so good. Robert 
will feel grateful, T know ; but we must not 
write. No, dear papa, I have quite made up 
my mind to go to him." 

" When are we to start then, little woman ?" 
the Squire said. 

" Oh, dear papa, I am going quite alone," 
Lucy replied. " I have explained it all to 
Maude, and she understands how it must 
be." 

'' Queen Maude does not know anything 
about it, if she fancies I should ever let my 
Lucy bird stretch her little wings abroad, 
without the old swallow by her side." 

" You do not know, papa, how well I can 
take care of myself ; and Robert will think I 
have much more trust in him, if I go to him 
alone." 

" And what will you do when you get 
there ?" the Squire asked — wondering at the 
courage and gentle determination of the small, 
fair creature by his side. 

" I shall find out Robert's lodgings and go 



LUCY AYLMER. 65 

to him ; and I intend to take Harry and a 
servant, papa, so I shall do very well. Every 
week I can write to you and Maude ; and 
then, when Robert has quite forgiven my 
taking him by storm, you could join us — and, 
perhaps, we could all come home together." 

The Squire was quite affected with Lucy's 
quiet hopeful plans. He frowned and winced 
and waged war with a tear, which, however, 
gained the day, and dropped down his sun- 
burnt cheek. Lucy was gazing at the evening 
star shining out in its beauty. The Squire 
too looked up. 

" You will not find this quietude in foreign 
countries, Lucy bird!" he said. 

" There is peace everywhere, dear papa — 
even in crowded thoroughfares, for trusting 
hearts." 

" Ah ! my own gem. I hope peace will 
come to you at last." 

" I am sure of it, dear papa," Lucy replied ; 
" if I could only reach dear Robert, to pass 
the anniversary of om- wedding-day together. 
We have never been apart yet on that day." 

" That allows you little time for journeying, 
Lucy darling," Maude said. 



66 LUCY AYLMER. 

" 1 ought to do it in a week, Maude. You 
and papa might take me to Paris — that would 
be seeing me part of my way." 

" That is a bright idea, little woman !" 
said the Squire. " Maude and I have never 
seen foreign parts yet." 

Lucy added, in a winning tone : 

"You will think me very pressing — but 
could we not be in London to-morrow 
night ?" 

" That is short breathing time ; but it shall 
be as you please," replied her father, thinking 
it best to let Lucy have her own way. 

They walked up and down amid the shady 
trees and shrubberies, till a starry host filled 
the sky, and the sounds and lights in the 
village died away. Lucy spoke most. The 
Squire and Maude felt a dreariness at the 
thought of their Lucy leaving her home again ; 
and for what ? They knew not. Her husband 
might welcome her with love ; but he might 
plunge her in yet deeper sorrow. The moon 
rose, and Lucy feeling weary, the Squire and 
his daughters went in again under the roof of 
the Manor House — and the doors were closed, 
and shut out the night. Lucy wrote that 



LUCY AYLMER. 67 

evening in her journal the text, " God is love." 
Her heart was filled with gratitude and praise, 
and yet sorrow must still cling around her, 
and the light shall not dawn yet ! The moon 
lingered that night around the sleeping forms 
of Lucy and her little child ; It had shone 
on her many a night as she slept. 



An almanack pasted to the wall of a scan- 
tily furnished room in Rome, gave information 
that August's days were nearly over. Every 
day as it passed away had had a black mark 
through it, but against that day, the 29th of 
the month, there was a red cross placed, and 
not a cross only, but a line all round the 
figures, hedging them in and keeping them 
separate from the rest. A corner of the 
almanack had become loosened from the wall, 
and the breeze coming in at an open window, 
flapped it up and down with a rustling 
sound. The same breeze that perpetrated 
this little disturbance, also blew against the 
shoulders of a young man who stooped over 
a table with a cup of coffee by his side, and 
several books spread open before him. 



68 LUCY AYLMER. 

Apparently the familiarity of the frolicsome 
zephyr was displeasing to him, for he shrugged 
first one shoulder, then the other ; and finally 
pushing back his chair, he rose to shut out 
the intruder. The window was many stories 
up in a high house, and looked directly 
into the corresponding window of another 
tall house. And did the young student 
direct his eyes downward, they lighted 
on a dirty street with no footpath, where 
the sun seldom shone on the sable 
priests, veiled nuns, vegetable-carriers, water- 
carriers, vetturinos and others who passed and 
repassed. There were no attractions for 
pausing to look above the faded blinds ; and 
the young man, whfen he had closed out the 
summer breeze, turned away again to his 
table ; and in turning, his eyes encountered 
the almanack on the wall. 

There was a Madonna, the Crucifixion, a 
head of St. Ambrose, a likeness of the Pope ; 
but none rivetted those languid blue eyes, like 
the English almanack. For ten minutes they 
never wandered from it, though during so 
short a period transition took place which 
exchanged the expression of that pallid coun- 



LUCY AYLMER. 69 

tenance from apathy to self-accusation and 
shame. 

He stole back to his chair, drew from his 
pocket a leather case filled with papers, and 
from among them he selected one with careful 
handhng, from whence came two locks of hair 
folded in a piece of old ribbon. The one 
exceeding fair, the other like a skein of unspun 
silk in texture ; and in colour it might have 
overshadowed an anQ-el's brow in its soft 
golden shade. The young man raised these 
to his lips ; then throwing his arms before him, 
pressed his forehead on the table and groaned 
aloud. Ah ! well does he recall the hour when 
that faded ribbon was preserved in remem- 
brance of his happiness ! 

A stealthy footfall ascended the many 
stairs, as silent, as cautious as a spy on secret 
mission bound; it halted on the highest 
landing ; then, in the young man's room stood 
a dark and aged figure. 

A deadly pallor overspread the student's 
countenance. He raised his head, and sas 
trembling and cowering like a culprit. 

The old man addressed hot and angry 
words to him ; spoke of " duty, weakness, and 



70 LUCY ATLMER. 

retrograding." The other in return pleaded 
" natural affection." The eyes of the old 
man grow bright with anger, and the effemi- 
nate countenance of his companion is suffused 
with resentment. But a little while, and this 
all passed away. 

The student knelt low, and kissed the old 
man's hand with the same lips that had 
pressed those two fair locks. And when the 
old man had laid his hand forgivingly on 
the suppliant head, together they passed from 
that prison-like room, down the one hundred 
and seventy steep stone steps, and so out 
into the dismal street ; and from thence the 
Padre Anastasio, and the divinity student 
Aylmer soon vanished amid the thoroughfares 
of Rome. 

There was a long day of toil and study, 
fastings and penance, for the perverted 
Aylmer, and there was not an hour of that 
day that did not bring before him the 
faces of his wife and little child, as he 
saw them last on the snowy morning when 
his Lucy with her Harry in her arms watched 
him away, while he turned from her to the 
gloomy brotherhood. He seemed to hear 



LUCY AYLMER. 71 

his own voice repeating over again the 
vow made three years ago on that very day ; 
and the words, " to love, honour and cherish, 
till death us do part" rang like a knell on 
his guilty ear. 

Jaded, cast down, his mind enslaved, 
his very thoughts subservient to the iron 
rule of the priesthood, Robert Aylmer 
walked the streets with eyehds bent and 
drooping step towards his own home. 
' Home,' was a strange word as associated with 
those two gloomy rooms. Surely that church 
must have great and wonderful fascinations 
which could have induced him to quit his 
own happy English nook ! 

He crossed himself and repeated prayers 
against unholy thoughts, as slov\'ly he 
mounted one by one the steep flight leading 
to his abode of solitude, and sometimes of 
despair. On reaching the topmost step, a 
child's voice fell on his ear. He paused 
and listened, it was an unusual sound on 
his floor, though one or two children lived 
lower down. 

When he had waited and listened two or 
three minutes, he became convinced that the 



72 LUCY AYLMER. 

sound proceeded from liis own rooms. All 
the mild Robert's anger was called forth at 
intruders in his apartments, the outer door of 
which he had forgotten to lock on leaving. 
Softly Robert approached, intending, to take 
the offenders by surprise, and rather trembling 
for the safety of the valuable books lent by the 
Padre Anastasio. 

Robert was not yet practised in the art of 
applying his ear to key-holes, together with 
divers other lawful little ways and means of 
discovering secrets ; so, directly his caution 
had brought him quietly to his door, he 
opened it and went in, picturing to himself 
the surprise of the inmates. But surprise 
awaited himself — startling, strange, magical. 
He stood rooted to the doorway, and well- 
nigh thought his senses gone, or that he were 
in the world of spirits. A sweet breeze ran 
through his usually close, hot room ; the 
curtains were looped aside, and a flood of 
unusual light came in. Had a fairy arranged 
his books ? Had a fairy placed on the table 
an English tea? Had a fairy adjusted furni- 
ture, removed dust, placed sweet-scented 
flowers on the empty stove? Had a fairy 



LUCY AYLMER. 73 

transplanted numberless little comforts from 
his old vicarage home among the Somerset 
hiUs? 

The curtain drew back which divided his 
rooms. Oh ! was she dead, and this her 
spirit — or did the living Lucy stand before 
him, arrayed in her pale summer dress, and 
adorned with the light of her shining hair, 
and in her arms that fair child, who buries 
his face on her shoulder ? Oh ! Robert could 
have fallen to the ground — but his wife's 
arms are around him ; and the misguided, 
erring man forgot months of sorrow, remorse, 
battles against will, affections, and wept like 
a child ! 

Patient, enduring one ! thou hast found thy 
way to his heart at last ! Keep fast thy 
hold, sweet one ! for Rome is ready to 
fight with thee — even for thy husband's 
love ! 



VOL. III. 



74 mCT ATI.MER. 



CHAPTER IV. 

So dear I love him, that with him all deaths 
I could endure, without him live no life. 

MILTON. 

What will not woman, gentle woman, dare. 
When strong affection stirs her spirit up ? 

SOUTHEY. 

They sat side by side in the twilight, her 
head resting on his shoulder — his arm twined 
around her ; and the gentle voice he had so 
loved in days now mingled with the past, 
spoke to him once again, and told him in 
whispered tones of their little one in Heaven. 
No word of upbraiding, no questioning or 
rebuke, had passed those meek lips ; love she 
brought with her, and peace ! These suffused 



LUCr ATLMER. 76 

her very atmospliere like a fragrance from 
above ; and the wear and tear of Hfe, with its 
sorrows and its sins, seemed forgotten. 

The present brought such a placid, sooth- 
ing feeling with it, that Robert scarce dared 
think or breathe, lest it should vanish again, 
and leave before him only the sternness of 
the inexorable past. He felt as if under the 
influence of a dream. Was it possible, that 
he, who only a few short hours ago had been 
toiling among books of Catholic lore, trying 
to forget the existence of every earthly tie, 
and centre his heart, his hopes, on the cold, 
stern Romish priesthood — should now be 
listening to his wife's voice, watching her 
every look, as if his life hung on her 
smile ? He sat contemplating her for a long 
time ; then, in a quick, anxious voice, he 
said : 

" Lucy, are you well ?" 

"Yes, Robert dearest. You do not 
think me altered?" she asked, raising her 
head. 

" It may be fancy, my own Lucy, yet I see 
a change." 

He looked so sadly grave, that Lucy 

£ 2 



76 LUCY AYLMER. 

laughed as she had not done for a long 
long time. 

" Robert, dear, I cannot allow that sad 
look. You forget I have had a long journey, 
and doubtless that gives me a weary appear- 
ance." 

"A long journey in quest of one alto- 
gether unworthy !" he said in a stifled 
voice. 

" Come, Robert, I will not have vou under- 
value yourself!" Lucy exclaimed, in a sweet 
tone of playfulness. 

" Oh ! Lucy, the past — the past !" Ro- 
bert broke forth, in a sort of smothered 
groan. 

'' Robert, dearest, I know you do not wish 
to grieve me," Lucy said; "but you could 
not do it more, than by reverting to what has 
gone by. The past is over, my own dear — 
we have nothing to do with that now ; the 
present is joy enough — and the future is 
ours. It remains for us to make it joy- 
ful." 

Robert stooped over her, and as he kissed 
her brow, he whispered ; 

'' Only tell me you forgive !" 



LUCY AYLMER. 77 

"Yes, darling, if you can forgive me 
coming and taking you by storm ?" 

"Eight days' journey," he murmured, 
" with no companion but a servant !" 

" And our boy ! Robert, you must not 
forget him. And then you do not remember 
that my father and Maude accompanied me 
as far as Paris. Dear papa, everything vras 
so strange to him !" 

" How could he part from you, my 
own?" 

" Papa has Maude — you had no one," 
she whispered. " Dear papa was never 
selfish." 

"Oh! that I could say the same myself!" 
interrupted Robert. " And would your father 
trust you ?" 

" He left everything to me," she replied ; 
" and I had such a famous escort. There is 
nothing like a travelled servant ; and Stevens, 
Lady Plora's former maid, turned up so op- 
portunely. I never knew I had made such 
an impression upon her, till she pressed her 
services, with an assurance that she would go 
to Botany Bay with me I" 



78 LUCY AYLMER. 

Lucy spoke brightly and cheerfully. Even- 
ing shadows gathered on, and Robert could 
only see the outline of her face in the dark- 
ness. 

" This is a gloomy place, Lucy, and so 
many stairs to mount. I must find you a 
better home," Robert said. 

"What is convenient for you, is good 
enough for me, dear," she replied, " though 
all these stairs must try you sadly." 

"I am accustomed to them," he said ; 
" but you will pine away, after the fresh air 
of home." 

In a low voice, Lucy added : 

" Why not return there, Robert ?" 

'* I dare not, Lucy ; my destiny is cast 
elsewhere." 

She asked no explanation ; but his words 
sent a feeling of desolation to her heart. She 
tried to shake it off, and reahze that wherever 
Robert was, there was home. 

"Did you see Lady De Walden, Lucy?" 
Robert asked. 

" No. Stevens went for your address, and 
I waited with Harry at an hotel. I expected 



LUCY AYLMER. 79 

to have been here much earlier, but the 
Countess had to send to the Marchesa Elmo, 
and she again to her brother." 

" Not Padre Anastasio ?" Robert exclaimed 
in a startled tone. 

" Yes ! that was the name. But he did not 
know it was for me. The message went in 
Lady De Walden's name." 

" Lucy," Robert said, in a voice that terri- 
fied her, " Padre Anastasio thinks I am 
separated from you. I am studying with 
him for the priesthood of the Holy Catholic 
Church!" 

It was quite dark now, so Robert could 
not see Lucy's face; but he fancied she 
panted for breath, and he began to be 
alarmed at her silence, when she said, in 
a voice of forced composure : 

" That accounts for the astonishment of the 
porter when I arrived this afternoon ; but 
when I showed him my card, and he saw the 
name on the luggage, he allowed me to go 
up. 

"He never told me any one was in my 
rooms, Lucy." 



80 LUCY AYLMER. 

" I wanted to surprise you, dearest Robert., 
on the anniversary of our wedding-day." 

Robert sighed. Priestly anger was coming 

over him, and infusing terror into his heart. 

His wife's heretic faith also stared him in the 

face. He was bewildered and puzzled ; and 

in the changeableness of his nature, he almost 

wished Lucy had not found out his retreat. 

He sat and pondered in silence over Padre 

Anastasio's probable anger, and his being 

compelled to abandon the idea of entering the 

priesthood, till Stevens, for whom and the 

little Harry Lucy had already engaged another 

room, came in with a light. It fell across the 

calm, sleeping face on his shoulder; and it 

showed unmistakeable traces of change. The 

dimpled freshness upon those soft cheeks, the 

expression of perfect repose, these were there 

no longer. There was a look of weariness 

and exhaustion, of settled endurance and care, 

that pained him to the very heart; and the 

wavering, weak-minded young man forgot 

church, priests — all, in the returning remorse 

and anguish at what he had caused. It 

was he who had rendered her young life sad ; 



LUCY ATLMER. 81 

he who had blighted her hopes, and crushed 
her health ! She woke up suddenly, and saw 
his eyes fixed anxiously upon her. 

" I shall look brighter to-morrow, Robert, 
indeed I shall," she said, as she rose up 
to arrange the lamp which was burning dimly. 
Robert watched her cross the room. Her 
step was feeble — he thought her childish 
elasticity was gone; and yet she looked so 
young, so small and helpless that his pity 
and remorse were increased. His best 
feelings would have prompted him at once 
to take her back to her Enghsh home. 
His rehgion said, " remain here !" and it tri- 
umphed. 

It was past eight o'clock the next morning. 
Robert had gone out in quest of new rooms. 
Those he occupied at present he had agreed 
were too shut in, too high for his wife and 
Uttle boy fresh from their free Somerset 
hills. Lucy was employing herself, arranging 
Robert's long neglected wardrobe. The little 
Harry played on the floor with a few toys. 
Stevens, who was well acquainted with Rome, 
from frequent visits in the Countess's suite, 

E 3 



82 LUCY AYLMER. 

had gone forth to make purchases for the 
day. 

Lucy, bending over her work, and occasion- 
ally kneeling down to amuse her little boy, was 
startled by a knock at the door, which was 
opened without waiting for permission ; and 
rather to her alarm, an elderly priest stood in 
the entrance. She instantly rose, and, bowing, 
asked, in very good Italian, if the Padre were 
seeking any one. 

The old man repHed in English, that he 
was seeking Mr. Aylmer; and he looked in- 
tently at her from beneath his bushy eyebrows 
as he spoke. 

" My husband has gone out," she replied, 
with an outward composure she was far from 
feeling. 

The priest stared and muttered something to 
himself in Latin. Lucy asked if he would leave 
any message. He replied, " none," and fixed 
his eyes on little Harry, who, ceasing his play, 
looked wistfully and timidly at the stranger. 

" You came last night, I believe ?" Padre 
Anastasio said, addressing Lucy. 

" 1 arrived in Rome yesterday," she repHed, 
with quiet dignity. 



LUCY AYLMER. 83 

" And how long do you intend to remain ?" 
he farther enquired. 

" As long as my husband does," Lucy 
answered. 

" You are acquainted with Lady Anne 
Erresford ?" he asked. 

"Her sister is my aunt," Lucy replied, 
wondering why he enquired. 

" You cannot remain up at the top of this 
house, in a student's lodgings," said the Padre. 
" Your husband is preparing for the holy 
office. If you remain at Rome, it must be as 
boarder in a convent." 

She looked imploringly up at the stern old 
man, as she said, in gentle tones : 

"My husband and I will never separate 
again." 

The priest replied in a harsh voice : 

" You are obstinate, Signora." 

"Not obstinate, but firm. Padre," she 
said: 

" Another word for the same thing," he 
observed with a sarcastic smile. 

" The words express a very different 
meaning to me," Lucy quietly remarked. 



84 LUCY AYLMER. 

The priest glared at her a moment, then 
said: 

" You cannot love your husband very 
much ; for by coming here you blight all his 
prospects." 

" Do you think so, Padre ?" she said in her 
sweet, soft voice. 

"Do I think so? Do I know it, you 
mean? I can tell you something, Signora," 
he continued. " Since Robert Aylmer's resi- 
dence here, the church has provided for him. 
But, Signora, our church does not support 
heretics like yourself, unless it is in a con- 
vent." 

"Padre," she said, gravely. "I did not 
come here to claim the help of your 
church." 

"Then you will be compelled to starve," 
he exclaimed, "for your husband is penni- 
less." 

" Padre," she said, "I do not feel myself 
called upon to discuss either my own 
or my husband's affairs with a stranger." 

" As soon as you knew them yourself, I 
knew them, Signora," he replied. " Nothing is 



LUCY AYLMER. 85 

secret from me : I am your husband's con- 
fessor," he cast on her a look of triumph. 

" Then, Padre, if you know all, why ask me 
any questions ?" she sighed deeply. 

The old man turned away. 

^' I go to seek your husband," he said. 

Lucy trembled, a faintness came over her, 
and she leant against the window-sill. Padre 
Anastasio turned once again, and as he caught 
sight of her meek, fair face, he murmured, 

" She will easily be terrified into doing as 
we wish !" He knew not the resolute, brave 
soul within that frail frame ! 

Eagerly and anxiously Lucy awaited her 
husband's return, but it was not till night- 
fall Robert came back. He looked harassed, 
and cast down, and instead of an affectionate 
greeting to Lucy, he threw himself on a chair, 
and rested his head on his outspread arms. 
There was just the least possible shade of 
alarm on Lucy's face, mingled with a great 
deal of love and compassion. She gently ap- 
proached Robert, and put her arm over his 
shoulder. 

" You have wearied yourself, dear Robert," 



86 LUCY AYLMER. 

she said ; " let us remain here, if other rooms 
are difficult to find." 

"We cannot remain here, Lucy," he 
replied, raising his head with a sudden jerk 
that displaced his arm ; " how can I live, I, a 
penniless man, supported at the expense of the 
Church?" 

" Robert ! I shall be no additional expense 
to you," Lucy said in a very low tone, " there 
is still Sir Edgar's legacy untouched, and next 
May I come of age, and take possession of my 
mother's httle property. I will not be any 
burden on you, dearest." 

" But what am I to do ?" Robert asked, in 
a fretful tone. " I am fit for no employment, 
but that of the priesthood." 

Lucy stood still with her hands crossed, her 
old childish attitude. Robert did not look 
towards her, or surely his heart would have 
melted. There was entire silence in that 
great room for some minutes, and then Lucy 
said meekly : 

" There is enough to support us all, dear 
Robert, or if you wish for more I can work. 
I dare say I could give English lessons." 



LUCY AYLMER. 87 

" That is all folly," Robert replied, throwing 
his face forward, and covering it with his 
hands. 

Lucy perfectly shook with agitation, and 
bitter tears overflowed those soft eyes. 

"Robert, dear," she said, submissively, 
" only tell me what you would have me 
do?" 

" Return to your father, Lucy," he repHed ; 
"would to Heaven I had never taken you 
from your home ! Oh, Lucy, I am a wretched, 
distracted creature. Do not add to my 
miserv !" 

" I would not for worlds, dear Robert," she 
said. 

" But while you are with me, you do," he 
almost groaned. " Lucy, it has been shown 
me clearly, that the priesthood is my vocation, 
and I dare not shrink from it. There is only 
one obstacle in the way — it is yourself — Lucy. 
We must part, and I be to you as dead — for- 
gotten^ — as though we had never met." 

Lucy closed her eyes, and covered them 
with her hand, as if to shut out some vision 
too dreadful for sight. 



88 LUCY AYLMER. 

Robert went on in the same unnatural, 
stifled tone. 

" Feel for me, Lucy, feel for my soul, and 
do not make me sacrifice eternity for a short 
space of earthly love !" 

" These are not your own words, Robert, 
my husband," Lucy said, as she knelt down, 
and rested her clasped hands on his knee. 
" Your heart, unprompted, would never speak 
thus ; Robert, you recollect your promise three 
years ago. Oh, do not break it now 

" Ah, Lucy !" he said, " on that day you 
promised to obey me — the obedience I ask is 
not difficult. You will be happier far with your 
father than with me — our creeds differ widely ; 
and our paths are separate. Lucy, again I 
ask you, tempt me not to sacrifice eternity " 

Her voice nearly died away as she said : 

" Robert, dear, I shall love you till death. 
Nothing but that can tear me from you !" she 
pulled away one of his hands from his face, 
and covered it with her kisses and her 
tears. 

" Oh, Lucy, Lucy !" he exclaimed bitterly, 
" must I yield ! If the Church — if my faith 



LUCY AYLMER. 89 

did not demand it otherwise of me ! but every 
holy feehng in my soul bids me press on — do 
not break my heart !" 

" Robert," Lucy said in a calm voice, " think 
of Harry ! oh, dear husband ! you loved him so 
much once V 

" Lucy, if we part, he shall be yours — to 
love you, to care for you, to be brought up in 
your faith. If you remain, the Church 
demands it of me, that, as soon as he arrives 
at years of discernment, she receives him from 
me into her pale." 

" When every earthly hope fails me," she 
said, in a scarcely audible voice, " I must 
turn to Heaven and look there !" she rose 
and moved away, but a sudden impulse 
compelled her to turn back, and stooping 
down she wdiispered, '' The first sermon you 
ever preached at Forsted, was from the words 
" Look up !" Robert dear ! " the remembrance 
of you from the past shall be my comfort !" she 
stood a moment by his side, then seeing he 
did not notice her, she went away, and knelt 
in mute and tearless agony by the couch of 
her sleeping child; then she remembered 
what Cecil had said when he brought her the 

VOL III. E 4 



90 LUCY AYLMER. 

news of her husband's flight from St. Mar- 
garet's. "It is very stormy now — but peace 
cannot be far oflP." 

"Peace — peace!" Lucy murmured, "there 
will be peace in Heaven 1" 

While Lucy knelt in silence and in dark- 
ness, the Padre Anastasio conversed with the 
Lady Anne in one of the Marchesa Elmo's 
saloons. 

" My mind is quite made up," her Lady- 
ship said, in her wonted proud tones. " I 
purpose next week making a public profession 
of my faith, and Holy Pather, I crave your 
blessing on the occasion." 

The Padre bowed in silent acquiescence. 

"You look tristey to-night. Padre," Lady 
Anne remarked. 

" My soul is quite bowed down," the 
priest repUed, " with grief for one of my 
dearest converts." 

" You speak of Mr. Aylmer," Lady Anne 
remarked, " my mother tells me, his wife has 
joined him." 

" May she be added to the only true fold," 
ejaculated the Pather piously. 

"Even your persuasions will fail there," 



LUCY ATLMER. 91 

Lady Anne continued. " In spite of that 
childlike meekness of manner, there is a deep- 
rooted firmness of character, which nothing 
will eradicate." 

" You know her well," Padre Anastasio 
remarked, carelessly handling a bronze within 
his reach. 

" I knew them both before they married, 
and did my utmost to prevent it — that was the 
wrong act of Mr. Aylmer's life." 

" I understood from you, Signora, there had 
been a formal separation," the Padre said in 
bland tones. 

"Mr. Mostyn of St. Margaret's was my 
informant," Lady Anne replied. 

The Padre looked thoughtful a few moments, 
then he addressed Lady Anne, " Could you 
not, as a good and faithful daughter of the 
church, use your influence in the conversion 
of the young wife of Mr. Aylmer ?" 

" I rarely fail in anything I undertake, but 
failure would be certain there," replied her 
Ladyship, " The best thing any one can do, is 
to persuade her to return to England." 

"And consent to a divorce," added the 
Padre. 



92 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Another impossibility," said Lady Anne. 
" I never saw any one so blindly attracted to 
her husband as Mrs. Aylmer." 

" Our church removes mountains," rejoined 
the Padre, with a courtly smile. 

" I wish it success in this case, from my 
heart, but jen doute /" observed her Lady- 
ship. 

" Any influence that Mrs. Aylmer may have 
with her husband, is but transitory,'' said the 
priest. 

" The little creature has great fascination, 
and knows how to play her part well," 
remarked Lady Anne. " It would not astonish 
me if she drew him back to apostacy ! There 
has been an extraordinary attachment between 
them, dating from childhood ; and few men 
can resist such persuasion and tears as she 
will poiir forth." 

*• Signora, do you not speak a little too 
lightly of his faUing back ?" said Padre 
Anastasio. 

" Lightness was not meant," she said, 
twirling carelessly a handsome fan. " You do 
not know how much I have had at heart the 
welfare of that weak young man. Both Mr. 



LUCY AYLMER. 93 

Mostyn and I were persevering in our 
arguments and persuasions." 

" Twice they have been effectual with the 
husband. Why should they not be equally so 
with the wife?" 

" Padre, you do not know her. Had she been 
of a temperament like my sister, it would have 
been an easy work for her husband to persuade, 
or alarm her into our views ; but my brother 
Cecil could not be more obstinate than 
Lucy." 

*' Lucie — ah ! that is a meek and gentle 
name," murmured the priest. 

Lady Anne turned her head suddenly 
round towards the crowd of guests, and close 
by, apparently absorbed in the contemplation 
of a fine Correggio, she saw Lord Glendowan. 
The priest looked that way also, and there 
was an expression on his countenance, which 
seemed to say, " I like thee not ;" but Lord 
Glendowan's eyes were fixed intently on the 
painting. Now he drew near, now moved back- 
wards, then raised his double glasses ; by and 
bye he let these fall and looked around, and 
his eyes and Padre Anastasio's met. 

" I am charmed to meet you, my Lord," 



94 LUCY ATLMER. 

said the priest. " What report of your lady 
sister ?" 

" She left to-day in flourishing health for 
Scotland," he repHed, pushing his hat from 
off his forehead. 

"Milord remains alone?" said the priest, 
blandly smiling. 

" Yes ! it suits my pleasure pour le moment. 
The Marchesa has added considerably to her 
collection of paintings, Monsieur." 

" Considerably,'' said the priest. " Are 
there any new arrivals to-day of EngKsh tra- 
vellers, Milord?" 

" None of note, I believe." 

" Nor yesterday ; no acquaintances of 
your own ?" 

" One meets with acquaintances every- 
where — they turn up by some means," re- 
plied Lord Glendowan. 

The priest bit his under lip and scowled ; 
then turning to Lady Anne, who was silently 
regarding the many groups, he said, with a 
courtly inclination, " I must seek the noble 
Countess, and offer her my congratulations 
on her son-in-law's accession to rank." 



LUCY ATLMER. 95 

Lord Glendowan's attention was instantly- 
fixed. 

"Lady Sangford is a proud wife," con- 
tinued the priest, " for talent, my dear lady, 
is power and strength." 

Lord Glendowan fixed his eyes again on 
the Correggio, and a mournftd expression 
pervaded his countenance. 

" Lord Sangford is an honour to his pro- 
fession," said Lady Anne "Our family is 
completely reconciled now." 

" Ah ! your sister was a little hardly used," 
said the padre : " it was but the hastiness of 
youth." 

Lord Glendowan still gazed at his painting 
and sighed ; the priest and Lady Anne 
moved away. Shortly after, Robert Aylmer 
mingled with the crowd of guests. 



It was early in September, and at an ex- 
quisite villa some twenty miles from London 
among the hills of Surrey, a large party were 
assembled at dinner. 

Maude Neville and Cecil Erresford sat 



96 LUCY AYLMER. 

side by side. The Squire was there, his 
sister, Lord De Walden and sundry grand 
cousins of that noble house, and last, though 
not least among the guests, were the noble 
Countess De Walden and the Lady Anne. 

The table and sideboard groaned beneath 
the weight of plate, matchless in design and 
beauty ; the choicest exotics filled the centre ; 
the rarest fruits graced the desert ; at each 
comer rose and fell a fountain of fragrant 
perfumes ; musicians stationed in the hall, 
played at intervals well-chosen airs. 

Pleasant feelings pervaded the elegant 
assembly. The Countess's feathers waved 
gracefully. Lady Anne's voice sounded cheer- 
fully. By and bye, an Earl cousin, with a lisp 
and a bad address, rose and made a speech, 
when all eyes were directed towards the noble 
host and hostess ; and the noble hostess in 
her splendid lace and brilliants, smiled as she 
had rarely smiled before, and Lord Sangford 
rose and made a speech in her name and his, 
in which he expressed his delight at the 
family reconciliation. Then Flora moved; 
and lace, feathers, velvets, and briUiants, 



LUCT AYLMER. 97 

sailed forth to the matchless drawing-room, 
and lounged on couches of white and rose 
satin, and toyed with feather screens — while 
the congratulations of the gentlemen were 
again tendered to Archer Tyrrell — Lord 
Sangford ! 



VOL. III. 



98 LUCr AYLMER. 



CHAPTER V. 

There is a comfort in the strength of love, 
'Twill make a thing endurable, which else 
Would overset the brain, or break the heart. 

WORDSWOETH. 

The wife wliom Robert had chosen as the 
sharer of his home, his happiness, and his 
love — the wife, who before he had won her, 
seemed to his heart's imagination, the sweetest 
jewel upon earth — and during the time they 
passed together, proved herself as angelic, as 
loving, as devoted, as his brightest di-eam had 
e'er conceived — this wife, so unselfish, so 
gentle, was now the greatest burden — the one 
care of Robert Aylmer's Hfe. He wished to 
enter the Romish priesthood. It was to this 



LUCY AYLMER. 99 

end he had left Ackington, that dreary winter 
night. But his Lucy, his "pale violet," as 
Archer had once called her, was the barrier, 
the one obstacle, that shut him firmly out 
from enrolling himseK among the dark- browed, 
dark-clad throng, who crowd the cathedrals 
and churches of the Eternal City. 

The Padre Anastasio and his brethren no 
longer supported their victim, at the church's 
expense ; he had left his student's lodgings, 
and resided in a small house, whose upper 
windows took in a glimpse of the distant 
Campagna. All the lower part was unlet, and 
belonged to an ancient man called Pietro, who 
used to smile on Lucy as she passed in and 
out, speaking pleasant, sweet words, and 
making her Httle Harry kiss his tiny hand to 
the old man. 

Her boy was her only earthly pleasure 
now, for the little wife lived a strange, 
solitary life ; almost the whole of the day her 
husband was absent from her ; he either left 
voluntarily, or Padre Anastasio fetched him 
away, after a few grimly uttered words to the 
frightened Lucy, on her obstinacy in depriving 
her husband of the inestimable privileges a 

r 2 



100 LUCY AYLMER. 

membership with the priesthood would have 
gained him ! 

Two months had elapsed since Lucy 
Aylmer first joined her husband in E,ome, 
two long, weary months, daring which, 
Robert had seemed to her each day to grow 
more strange. At times, a little of his fond 
manner returned ; then again, he was so cold, 
so shrinking and silent, that he appeared 
under some vow of increased austerity. Lucy 
had not one single friend with whom she 
could hold intimate converse. The Countess 
and Lady Anne, had long since left Rome ; 
new friends, in her strange position, she 
dared not make, nor did she trust herself to 
write more letters than absolutely necessary to 
her home relations. She had httle to tell, and 
dreaded to excite their fears for her happiness, 
and so be the cause of bringing to her either 
her father or her sister, who, she was sure 
would instantly take her back to England. 
Poor forlorn, lone one ! their love and 
sympathy would have been more sweet to her 
than words could express ; but self was not 
mingled with her daily life, except in so far as 
it could be made subservient to the one object 



LUCY AYLMER. 101 

for which she came, for which she endured 
and suffered ; the winning back her husband 
to her love, from the miserable asceticism in 
which he now lived. One thing carried Lucy 
along her otherwise almost unbearable way, 
and that was, the hope of final victory over 
Father Anastasio and his influence. She 
looked to Heaven for aid, and surely she 
would not look in vain. But daily her road 
grew darker, her hope less distinct. During 
the last few days the priest had been pressing 
Lucy to consent to a separation, without which 
her husband could not enter the priest- 
hood. Not one word of anger had the priest 
drawn forth from her meek lips — all his persua- 
sions were in vain, and made no impression 
on the gentle, but courageous girl. 

Lucy sat one afternoon at the high window — 
her work in her hand — her child playing on the 
floor, at her feet. Her needle plied dihgently, 
and she only now and then raised her eyes to 
look across the distant landscape, and up at 
the dear blue canopy of heaven, with which 
her thoughts seemed communing. She was 
so intent, so preoccupied, that she did not 
hear a low knock, and was rather startled, 



102 LUCY ATLMER. 

when on raising her eyes, the door opened, 
and the Lady Anne Erresford, accompanied 
by her attendant Agnese, entered the room. 
Lucy rose instantly, and a pink flush suffused 
her deUcate countenance. What a vision of 
byegone days ! Her lady visitor called to her 
mind visions of her country home as it had 
been formerly — the remembrance of her first 
meeting with the Lady Anne, rose speedily to 
her view. 

"Mrs. Aylmer, I hope I am not in- 
truding on you," were her Ladyship's first 
words. 

" Oh no ! it is kind of you to come to me," 
Lucy replied, as she invited Lady Anne to her 
own vacant chair. " Agnese, I hope you are 
well, pray be seated." 

Agnese in the humblest manner seated 
herself close to the door, and tried to make 
friends with little Harry; who, however, 
rejected all her offers of friendship, and posting 
himself beneath a table, peered at her from 
behind the table-cloth. 

" Have you been long in Rome, Lady 
Anne?" Lucy asked, as they sat confronting 
each other by the window. 



LUCY ATLMER. 103 

" Oh no ! I only arrived yesterday morning. 
I winter here," she added, eyeing Lucy with 
a strange, frigid stare. 

" Have you travelled alone ?" Lucy enquired. 

" Simply with Agnese for my companion. 
I am staying as guest with the Marchesa 
Elmo — charming, dehghtful woman, is she 
not ?" 

" I only know her by name," Lucy timidly 
replied. 

" Strange — ^but how is that ? Your husband 
visits intimately there. I met him last night 
at the Palazzo." 

Lucy's eyes fell, and her cheek reddened 
beneath Lady Anne's gaze. She could have 
told how she knew nothing of her husband's 
movements ; but this meek wife never com- 
plained, so she only asked if Lady Anne 
thought Robert looking well ? 

" Not very blooming," was the reply, " he 
appears harassed ; but you, Mrs. Aylmer, you 
are terribly altered !" 

" Am I ?" Lucy said with a smile at Lady 
Anne's earnest manner. 

"My dear creature, do you never look 
in the glass? Tliis city does not suit 



104 LUCY AYLMER. 

you, I see plainly. You should return to 
Forsted." 

"It is not convenient at present/' Lucy 
said quietly. 

"You cannot possibly have anything 
to detain you here," urged her Lady- 
ship. 

" It suits my husband to remain/' Lucy 
gently answered. 

" That surely is no reason why you should 
waste your health in a place which does not 
agree with you ?" 

" My husband's home must be mine/' was 
Lucy's calm reply. 

" That is a folly ! pardon me the expres- 
sion/' said Lady Anne, her manner becoming 
more dictatorial. " A husband cannot always 
be tied to his wife." 

" No 1" rephed Lucy in a strangely thrilling 
tone, " death can part them !" 

" Tush ! you must entertain no such dismal 
thought. You, a little flower made to dance 
along through Hfe, are not fit to dwell in this 
gloomy house, with a husband wTapped up 
in himself— depend upon it, Mrs. Aylmer, 
you are best separated. Nothing in this world 



LUCY AYLMER. 105 

will ever make your husband cheerful or 
happy, but the life he has chosen, the priest- 
hood. Why stand in his way ? You have a 
happy English home to which to go, a kind 
father, an affectionate sister to receive you — 
and clearly to me with them your life ought 
to be spent. Your troubles will soon pass 
away, and the happy Forsted girl return 
again." 

With a calm dignity of manner of which 
Lady Anne never thought her capable, Lucy 
said : 

" Padre Anastasio has broached this sub- 
ject before. It is not a pleasant one, and I 
think in friendly conversation, we should do 
well to avoid it." 

" As you please," Lady Anne replied, " but 
believe me, child, the Padre and myself have 
your soul's welfare at heart. You injure y j 
husband sadly." 

Lucy's colour alternated rapidly from red 
to white, and a peculiarly distressed expres- 
sion played around her mouth; it hovered 
there a moment, then changed into a soft, 
sweet smile, as she addressed Lady Anne 

F 3 



106 LUCY AYLMER. 

with inquiries after her friends in Eng- 
land. 

" They are all in health, I beheve," Lady 
Anne replied, for the first time turning her 
cold, dark eyes on little Harry, who still 
continued his inquiring gaze at his mother's 
new visitors. " I think your child must feel 
the change," she added. 

" Not at all," Lucy replied ; " it is a 
comfort to me to see him so bloom- 

Just at this juncture, little Harry, not 
liking the look of Lady Anne's large eyes, 
pulled a corner of the table-cloth down before 
him, to conceal himself from her view, in 
which achievement he suceeded in upsetting 
an ink-stand on the floor. This disturbed 
the conversation, and Lady Anne took 
herself and her attendant away, saying, 
as she left the room, in patronizing 
tones : 

" I shall very often come to see you, Mrs, 
Aylmer." 

Poor Lucy ! As she assisted Stevens in 
removing the ink-spots from the floor, she 



LUCY AYLMER. 107 

sighed, and thought that Lady Anne al- 
ways seemed to fall as a blight upon 
her ! 

Lucy waited for tea some time that even- 
ing before Robert returned ; and when he 
did come in, he was silent and moody. 
Lucy wheeled a chair for him to the 
table. 

"You look very tired, Robert, dear," 
she said, casting on him an anxious 
glance. 

" I am," he replied, throwing his head 
back. " I am very weary and wretched." 

" Hush, Robert, darling ! there is nothing 
to make you wretched," Lucy said. 

" So you think," he replied, impatiently ; 
"but it is enough to make me wretched 
to see you and Harry cooped up here, out 
of the way of every friend or comfort, 
and to know that I can do nothing for 
you." 

" Dear Robert ! do not make yourself un- 
happy about us. I am sure Harry and I are 
very bonnie ; and as to friends, one has turned 
up only this afternoon," 



108 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Lady Anne Erresford ! But you do not 
like her?" 

"She is rather stiff; but I suppose she 
cannot help that. And, you know, we ought 
to overlook faults in our connections. I dare 
say I appear as strange to her as she does to 
me." 

"What did she talk about?" Robert 
asked. 

" Principally generalities," Lucy replied. 
"She 4ad Agnese with her, and she was 
rather a restraint." 

" Agnese is an excellent young woman," 
Robert remarked, as Lucy handed him his 
tea, and some cake she had been making from 
an English receipt. 

"She seems much attached to Lady 
Anne," Lucy replied. The little wife never 
argued with her husband. 

" You have been wear}dng yourself to 
death this morning by cooking, 1 know, 
Lucy ?" Robert said, looking up. 

" So far from it fatiguing me, dear, I en- 
joyed it," Lucy replied. 

"That Stevens is so helpless!" Robert 



LUCY AYLMEB. 109 

said. "You want some bustling, practical 
per^n who could give you more assistance. 
The Marchesa told me of one or two such 
yesterday evening." 

" Oh ! Robert dear, I would so much 
rather not part wdth Stevens !" Lucy ex- 
claimed, in a little alarm. 

''Our boy will never learn Italian with 
her," Robert remarked ; " with a native he 
would acquire it easily." 

"I will teach him words," Lucy said, 
smiling. "Do not fear, Robert, there is 
plenty of time yet to make our baby-boy a 
linguist." 

" Poor child !" sighed Robert. 

Lucy closed her eyes, and was silent for a 
moment. Was she Hfting up one of her 
frequent prayers to Heaven ? 

Robert finished his tea in thoughtful ab- 
straction; and not all Lucy's efforts could 
draw him into conversation. When the 
table was cleared, he took from a desk pens 
and paper, and commenced casting up a long 
column of accounts. Lucy worked dihgently, 
and the clicking of her needle was the only 
sound in that dull room. Presently Robert 



110 LUCY AYLMER. 

laid his pen down, with the exclama- 
tion : 

" Padre Anastasio was right. I have cal- 
culated over and over again, and with every 
economy we cannot live here under three 
hundred a year — he told me so ; and yet 
with that there is not one comfort to be 
procured for you." 

" Men do not know anything about house- 
keeping," Lucy said, in a cheerful tone. " I 
wish you would not trouble your head at all 
about such things, dear old husband ! We 
shall not starve so long as Sir Edgar's legacy 
lasts, and if we are not more extravagant 
than at present, it will carry us on for many 
a long year ; and after my next birthday, 
there will be one whole hundred a year to add 
to it ! Dear Robert ! do throw away those 
papers, we really are quite rich !" Lucy had 
come round, and knelt on the floor by Robert ; 
her hand resting on his arm. He turned his 
head and rested his gaze on her a moment, 
then leaning his head on the table, he burst 
into an agony of tears. Lucy's face became 
strangely pale, and a tremulous motion played 
around her lips ; but she used great command 



LUCY ATLMER. Ill 

over herself, and rising, she said playfully, 
"Now, Robert, I call this very naughty— I 
really do. Little Harry could not be worse. 
Come, Robert, rouse yourself, and I will play 
at chess with you, or sing to you — only do 
not be dull, it is so bad for your health : no- 
thing wears people so much as tears — ^you 
used to be so bonnie, Robert dear !" 

He encircled one arm around her, and 
rested his head on her shoulder. 

" Oh ! Lucy, Lucy !" he groaned. " What 
am I to do — only tell me what I am to do ? 
I love you dearly, dearly. But, oh Lucy 1 my 
soul claims my first care, my first soHcitude ; 
and these good sons of the church tell me 
daily that 1 am sacrificing my soul to you — 
that I must either renounce my religion, or 
renounce you ! When 1 arrived in this place, 
I made a vow to enter the priesthood. I am 
breaking the vow, Lucy — as you love me, tell 
me what I am to do ?" 

" Stay with me, Robert, and never ask me 
to leave you !" Lucy replied in an earnest 
tone, in which alarm was mingled. 

"When the church commands me other- 



1 L2 LUCY AYLMER. 

wise ? Oh, Lucy, if you would only leave your 
heretic faith ?" he said persuasively. 

" Dear Robert, the church in which I was 
baptised, is the church in which I should 
wish to die !" she replied, in a low soft 
tone. 

" So I thought once," he exclaimed ; " but a 
great change has passed over me since those 
dark days. Lucy, in moral worth you are 
perfect, but in spiritual goodness you are in 
error — fearful error ! When 1 think of you, 
Lucy, I am like a man in despair !" 

"Despair not for me, my own husband," 
she said sweetly. " I have no fear. If death 
were to come to-morrow, I might tremble at 
the dark river I should have to pass ; but in 
the thought of a hereafter, I feel perfect 
peace." 

" Lucy, do not speak of dying !" he ex- 
claimed. " Oh, miserere ! miserere ! Would 
to Heaven I had never taken you from your 
happy home 1" 

" I have never once regretted it," she said 
gently. " No, no, dear, so far from that, I 
thank God daily for having given me to 
you." 



LUCY AYLMER. 113 

He looked a long wistful look at her calm 
spiritual countenance ; then he said : 

*'0h, Lucy, I thought you would have 
upbraided me !" 

"That would not be mfe-like or dutiful 
on my part," Lucy said playfully. " Now 
Robert, we will not talk any more so lu- 
gubriously — what can I do to amuse you ?" 

Robert started up. An old French time- 
piece on a bracket opposite him played a 
merry galloping little tune, then in shrill 
tones it struck nine. 

" I ought to have been there now," he 
said, "Padre Anastasio expects Mostyn. I 
promised to meet him. Lucy, I must leave 
you again." 

" Come back quickly," she softly mur- 
mured, then added, I did not know Mr. 
Mostyn was in Rome." 

" He has come to enter the priesthood, 
blessed man ! he has renounced all to follow 
his master !" 

Lucy trembled. 

" Do you not dress, Robert ?" she 
asked. 

" It is no assembly," he rephed, " only 



114 LUCY AYLMER. 

the presence of two saintly ones I go into, 
and there the world is forgotten — My hat — 
where is it ? I shall be late." He hastened to 
find it, while Lucy lighted a candle, and ac- 
companied him down stairs. 

" Do not be long, Robert," she said as 
they parted. 

Pietro opened the outer door, and watched 
Robert, and then turning to Lucy he said, 
'^ Buona notte, Signora.'' Lucy smiled and 
wished him good night in her turn ; and the 
old man looked after her as she toiled up the 
stairs, the flickering light falhng over her 
face sadder, sweeter, more heavenly than it 
had ever before appeared to his eyes, and he 
muttered in his kindly old voice, " Che Bio la 
mette in Paradiso, che la coronava r He 
asked a sweet boon for her, never thinking 
how soon it might be granted. 

Lucy closed the door of her room after her 
feebly, and sinking down on a chair, 
gasped for breath. Stevens who had just 
before entered to hght her mistress's lamp, 
held in her arms the pale Lucy panting, 
struggling as though life and , death held 
warfare. The struggle lasted but a few 



LUCY ATLMER. 115 

moments, then with a heavy sigh, Lucy sat 
upright and smiled. 

" Dear, ma'am, you have been overdone 
again 1" said Stevens anxiously. 

" I was foohsh not to take any air to-day," 
Lucy replied in a trembling tone. " I am so 
thankful yom^ master was not here : it would 
have distressed him — pray do not mention it, 
Stevens." 

"You are very considerate, ma'am," Ste- 
vens replied. 

" It is only right, Stevens, to think of the 
happiness of others. I am sorry I frightened 
you so much." 

" Oh ! never mind me, ma'am. My being a 
little alarmed is nothing to what you must 
have felt." 

" It was very dreadful while it lasted — it 
felt like dying. I have heard my mother 
used to be just so sometimes." 

" I wonder what it was ?" Stevens said, 
" and there is no brandy or anything in the 
house to give you." 

" It is no consequence," Lucy murmured 
faintly. " I do not think it will return again ; 
there is some Eau de Cologne in my room, 



116 LUCY AYLMER. 

if you will open one of the windows. I 
shall be better." 

" You will not sit up for master, ma'am ?" 
Stevens asked in alarm. 

" Oh yes ! I shall try. You know I always 
do/' Lucy replied rising, and walking feebly 
to the open window. 

" I wish we were all back at Forsted, that I 
do !" Stevens said almost crying as she went 
to her mistress's room to fetch the Eau de 
Cologne. 

"Oh ! how thankful I am," Lucy murmured 
to herself. " How grateful I ought to be that 
I did not die. I should like, if it please God, 
to live for my husband and child — to live a 
long time for them !" 

Oh ! was her husband Avorthy of such a 
wife ? It scarcely seems so, or why did he 
leave her to-night ? 

At a table in a large scantily furnished 
room sat the Padre Anastasio and the holy 
Hubert the quondam brother of St. Margaret's, 
Ackington, now carried by an easy transition 
from the topmost bar of Tractarianism into 
the fold of the protecting mother, Rome. They 
were conversing on something important. What 



LUCY AYLMER. 117 

could it be? One of the Padre's remarks 
was, " there is still an insurmountable obstacle 
in his way." 

" The one great obstacle/' replied Mostyn, 
" in the way of the English priesthood, is mar- 
riage — Thank heaven," he added with consi- 
derable fervour, " I ever kept from it." 

"You have cause to be grateful indeed," 
muttered the Padre. " Robert is still 
completely in the dark as regards his future 
life." 

"His wife is immoveable of course," ob- 
served Mostyn. 

" Oh ! obstinate, obstinate as stock or 
stone !" exclaimed the priest. " Nothing moves 
her ; and, moreover, she still retains influence 
over her husband." 

" Not heretical influence ?" Mostyn asked, 
in alarm. 

" Oh, no, not that," exclaimed the Padre, 
" but a sentimental childish influence, which 
is very detrimental to his strength of cha- 
racter." 

" Cannot you persuade her to return 
home ?" Mostyn enquired. 

" I do not know what time may effect, but 



118 LUCr AYLMER, 

as her mind is at present disposed, you 
might as easily try to remove mountains." 

" Will Aylmer come to you to-night, 
Padre ?" said Mostyn. 

"He promised, and his word he always 
keeps. Oh ! that we had him once safe 
within our holy priesthood 1" 

"If Mrs. Aylmer were only of our faith, 
we might convince her then of the good 
accruing to her husband's soul by a separa- 
tion," remarked Mostyn. 

The priest shrugged his shoulders. " Wo- 
man's obstinacy, my brother, woman's ob- 
stinacy !" 

"And yet, Padre, I have known so many 
convinced. In my own parish of Ackington, 
two daughters of the leading man there are 
now within the true fold, while a third is 
fast following in her excellent sisters' steps. 
Then two young persons of obscure paren- 
tage, farm servants, I believe, have thrown 
themselves on the protection of the Church, 
and many others could I mention from the 
testimony of brother priests. Say you not. 
Padre, there is hope for England yet ?" 

" Bright and glorious hope, my son, that 



LUCY AYLMER. 119 

the noble isle will return to her pure and 
pristine faith ! We have fellow workers in 
well nigh every town and village, working 
hard and zealously, and with every hope of 
success. I own there is strong opposition ; 
but is there not also a strong current flowing 
w^ith and towards us ? Oh ! blessed be 
the saints ! for England, we can lift high the 
banner of hope !" 

" And so many of the heretical faith are 
working for us," Hubert said. 

" Working boldly for us, and only waiting 
as you yourself did, to throw off" the trammels 
at the right moment, and come and join us 
heart and hand. Welcome, thrice welcome ! 
brother 1" The Padre held out his hand 
and grasped that of Mostyn. 

At this moment, the door slowly opened, 
and Robert Aylmer entered. 

" Holy father 1 I am late in keeping my 
engagement with you. I must plead great 
bodily fatigue as an excuse — Ha, Mostyn ! 
it rejoices me to meet you once more, and 
especially here on holy ground." 

" We often on the terrace walk at St. 



120 LUCY AYLMER. 

Margaret's talked of this happy time,'* re- 
plied Mostyn. 

"When we should both meet as disciples 
of the one true faith," Robert exclaimed. 

" There is a wide difference yet between 
you, my sons," observed the crafty Anas- 
tasio. 

A hot colour suffused Robert's face, while 
Hubert bent his holy eyes meekly on the 
ground. 

" Which is the richest— which the most 
blessed — which the most worthy the love of 
our blessed, most pure mother?" the priest' 
began, " he, who, renouncing all earthly ties, 
gives body, soul and spirit to serve the 
ancient and only Church; or he, who en- 
tramelled by the voice of earth, breaks his 
vow, and turns his back on the work our holy 
mother wills him to do ?" 

There was a moment's silence after this 
harangue, then Robert's voice timidly broke 
forth. 

" Padre 1 I feel your rebuke deeply, poig- 
nantly, the worse from knowing how I merit 
it. Yet how totally unable am I to place my- 



LUCY AYLMER. 1.21 

self side by side with my brother in the sacred 
office." 

" There speaks the flesh 1" Padre Anasta- 
sio broke forth, with a fiery flash in his deep, 
searching eyes. 

" You cannot feel for me, Padre," Robert 
rephed ; " you have never experienced like 
temptations, like sorrows. I took my wife 
from her home ; made her legally mine : I dare 
not by force cast her off" — nothing can be done, 
but by her free consent." 

" Is my son sure he always does his utmost 
in persuasion and argument with his heretic 
wife ?" said the Padre, in bland but firm 
tones. 

" I dare not torture her with words," 
Robert said, in a shghtly impatient voice. 

"You care not for her soul," was the 
priest's stern rejoinder. 

"I do, holy father ! beHeve me, I do !" ex- 
claimed Robert. '' Believe me, her soul is 
dearer to me than my life. Heaven would not 
be Heaven, did I not meet Lucy there !" 

A dark scowl, for a moment, o'erspread the 
countenance of the ecclesiastic ; but Robert 

VOL. III. G 



122. LUCY ATLMER. 

saw it not, his eyes rested in perplexed sadness 
on tiic floor. 

" Should your wife die an unbeliever, a 
heretic," said the priest, " expect you, young 
man, that Heaven will receive her ?" 

" Padre, I dare not think of it. The Church 
tells me, nay, and the knowledge makes my 
heart bleed." 

"Then, brother, if you so love her, your 
whole soul's energies should be given to save 
her from eternal condemnation," the holy 
Hubert remarked in- solemn tones. 

" Even so, my son," replied the Padre, with 
passionate earnestness, " for hear me once 
again — there are good men and women found 
out of the Church, but a saint never. There is 
no salvation out of the Apostolic Church — no 
man, woman, or child can, or ever has been 
saved, unless it is by the will of our holy 
mother Church, and beneath her sheltering 
wing." 

The holy Hubert bowed his head in mute 
acquiescence. Robert groaned : 

" Oh, Padre ! Padre ! help me to win 
over the blinded, misguided one to the true 
fold!" 



LUCl AYLMER. 123 

"But in case she will not hear me/' said 
the Padre. 

" She must, she will hear you in time !" 
exclaimed Robert, bitterly. " Visit her daily, 
father : oh ! give her not up, though the work 
cost days, nay years of the wisest, most 
solemn persuasion !" 

" My son, it shall be even as you wish ; and 
should our prayers and entreaties avail, great 
will be tlie church's triumph ; then with ease 
shall we persuade oiu* daughter to seek an 
asylum among the church's chosen ones, and 
*you will be free to enrol yourself a worthy 
son, a bright ornament among the church's 
working members ; and thus though for ever 
parted from earth's ties, you will be one in 
holiness, faithfulness and love !" 

Then did the Padre, with glowing coun- 
tenance and tones of animation discant on 
the heavenliness of the church, her purity, 
her zeal, her antiquity, her divine origin — 
her charital)leness — her love — and the joyful 
triumph of the faithful who continue firm to 
the end, the transcendental glories they shall 
receive, the dazzling crown — the high place in 
heaven ! 

G 2 



124 LUCY AYLMER. 

Robert heard all with breathless eagerness, 
and with a flush of painful excitement on his 
face. He parted with the priest's blessing 
upon him, and went back to his dreary rooms 
to find his wife, that " lost heretic " reading 
by the light of a dismal lamp, with sweet 
and composed mien, from a well-worn Bible, 
a description of the heavenly glories as de- 
picted in the Apocalypse, and of the martyrs 
who shall tread the golden streets of the 
heavenly city. 



LUCY AYLMER. 



125 



CHAPTER VI. 

Fivm faith and deep submission to high Heaven 
Will teach us to endure without a murmur 
What seems so hard. 

W, MORE. 

True to his promise, Padre Anastasio 
visited daily at Aylraer's rooms, and con- 
versed with fervour, zeal and enthusiasm. 
Plainly and without any disguise he told 
Lucy she was lost — then showed her salva- 
tion, not by the Cross, but by membership 
with the one Catholic church. With untiring 
patience and gentleness, Lucy heard this 
strange and startling doctrine; which, how- 
ever, made not the sHghtest impression upon 
her. Her faith, founded on the Bible, was as 
firm as a rock ; neither persecution nor tribu- 
lation could shake it. 



] 26 LUCY AYLMER. 

Outwardly the Padre was very composed 
and respectful in his manner towards Lucy ; 
but in his inmost heart he oftentimes longed 
to shake her, and thought if he had her once 
within the pale of his own church, how many 
severe penances he Avould inflict on her, for 
her obstinate heresy. Besides the Padre's 
harassing, tedious visits, the Lady Anne also 
contributed her share towards making Lucy's 
life miserable, the Padre having persuaded 
her Ladyship to aid him in the work of con- 
version ; but she did not play her part at all 
skilfully, her proud nature could not liumble 
itself, nor her cold heart soften. She had not 
yet learned Jesuitical tact ; instead of pursuing 
a circuitous course to explain her meaning in 
haughty words, she expressed it at once, 
thereby distressing Lucy, and so defeating her 
object, which was to persuade Lucy to con- 
sent to a separation, and enter a convent, or 
in case she continued obsthiate in her creed, 
to return to England. 

Lady Anne's visits were even more painful 
than the Padre's ; and to avoid them Lucy 
took long and frequent walks, till the hour 
for Lady Anne's drive had passed by; and 
then the forlorn girl crept home, her strength 



LUCY AYLMER. 127 

exhausted, and her mind saddened by the 
solitude. All her life-time she had been the 
object of the tenderest love, and now she no 
longer experienced this, she pined impercepti- 
bly after it. 

Privations also added to her declining 
health ; every luxury, nay, eveiy comfort to 
which she had been accustomed, she denied 
herself, that she might have more to spend on 
her husband and child. Sir Edgar's legacy 
was handsome ; but it slipped fast through 
her fingers. Numberless demands were made 
on her husband for charities and donations to 
various churches, and these Robert dared not 
refuse, hanng been himself supported so long 
at the church's expense. It was almost 
enougli to make that staunch old Protestant, 
Sir Edo-ar, rise from his orrave, to see the wav 
his legacy to the " pretty little Miss Neville" 
was fast falling into the hands of that verv 
church he so hated and abhorred. 

It. was the festival of All Saints, Robert's 
birth-day. Lucv had made him some pretty 
book-markers, and purchased a bouquet to 
grace the breakfast table. Robert's spirits 
seemed to revive with her cheerfulness, and 



128 LUCY AYLMER. 

to Lucy's joy he proposed to take a walk with 
her, a treat she had never once enjoyed during 
her three months' residence in Rome. 

" We must not go very far, or you will be 
tired," said Robert. 

" Not with you," she replied. " I am never 
weary where you are, Robert." 

" Poor Lucy, you do not see much of me," 
he said. " My church is exacting, she requires 
a great deal of a soul that desires to be saved, 
that is her only fault — but hush ! I should 
not have said this," he added, looking round 
in alarm, 

" We are quite alone, Robert," Lucy 
said, with a pitying expression on her coun- 
tenance. 

" One never knows when one is alone 
here, it is such a busthng place," Robert 
replied, still casting his eyes nervously 
around. 

" Do you like Rome better than Worsted, 
Robert ?" Lucy asked timidly. 

"The flesh does not, but for the spirit 
this surely is the best abode. Whoever 
saw piety in Eorsted, such as one sees 
here ?" 



LUCY AYLMER. 129 

"Robert dear," Lucy said in a grave 
tone, "I do not see the piety." 

" That is because you know so few, but the 
Padre Anastasio, for example. Who in Eng- 
land shows such concern for souls as he does 
for yours, my Lucy ? Oh ! resist him no 
longer !" 

" I must, Robert dear, even to the end," 
Lucy replied. Her face grew paler, her brave 
heart fluttered and trembled as she added, 
" my own dear husband, to please you I would 
do anything, promise anything, but renounce 
my faith. I dare not, for when all things else 
fail, that is my only support." 

"If I only thought heretics could reach 
heaven !" Robert murmured in a tone of 
intense sorrow. 

" When we are called home, we shall find 
many there we never expected to meet," Lucy 
gravely rephed. 

" I wish I could think so," Robert said 
doubtingly. 

"DarHng Robert," Lucy added with a 
smile, " love hopeth all things !" 

" It does — it does !" exclaimed Robert, 
" and my love for you hopes you will one day, 

G 3 



130 LUCY AYLMER. 

and that soon, be a true daughter of our Holy 
Church !" he rose and looked from the 
window. 

Lucy remained still, her hands folded, her 
eyes closed ; and she prayed, as oft she did, a 
silent, unuttered prayer, which in her great 
perplexity and trouble could only frame the 
imploring words, " My Pather, my Father !" 
A voice seemed to answer, " Here am I, 
be not afraid ;" and with that her fainting 
heart revived, and she feared not, but held on 
again valiantly. That morning, her old home 
life seemed almost returned to her again. 

Robert read aloud to Lucy from a book of 
miscellaneous poems, a favourite with them in 
their early days ; after that he had a romp with 
his child ; but Robert, worn and weak by 
fasting, and the many austerities of his Hfe, 
was soon fatigued by the frolicsome, robust 
boy ; and as a change, he proposed to Lucy 
their promised walk. How the little wife's 
face lighted np as she went with alacrity to 
put on her bonnet. Tears of joy were actually 
glistening in those soft eyes. The day was 
damp and colder than it had yet been ; and as 
Lucy was getting out from a box her winter 



LUCY ATLMER. 131 

shawl, her heart beat quicker, for the Avell- 
known step and sonorous voice of the Padre 
Anastasio fell like a knell on her ear from the 
adjoining room. She hastily completed her 
toilet, and hurried in. Hoat the expression of 
Robert's countenance had c hanged ! Some- 
thing of its old byegone untroubled abandon 
had returned during the morning, but alas ! 
now it was all fled, giving place to fear and 
abject submission. 

" Lucy," he said, " in the worldly spirit 
that was creeping over me, I had forgotten — 
may the Holy Saints pardon me !" 

Here he performed the sign of the cross — ■ 
"that to-day is their especial festival. The 
Holy Father has awakened me from njy 
lethargy, and I now accompany him to the 
church of Santa Maria Maggiore, to witness 
the blessed ceremony." 

There was an expression on Lucy's face 
that Robert never forgot, as she said in lo\v 
tones, in which tenderness and upbraiding 
were mingled : " Then you will not walk 
with me to-day ?" 

" I wonder you can ask it," interrupted 
the Padre sternly ; " miserable woman, you 



132 



LUCY AYLMER. 



are not content with the ruin of your own 
soul ; — but you must hinder the salvation of 
your husband T 

Robert trembled ; his lips grew white ; but 
he dared not say anything to the priest in re- 
monstrance. 

Lucy, his fearless, child-like wife, resting 
one hand on the table for support, and with 
the other caressing her child who had come 
towards her, said in respectful tones, " Padre, 
neither you nor I, nor any human being upon 
earth can put forth a finger in saving or con- 
demning the soul of another — we are all sin- 
ful, clergy and laity, alike ; and unless God 
please to save us, we can have no hope of 
heaven ; but should our Father condescend to 
look down with pity upon any, and change 
their hearts, whether it be Jew or Heathen, 
Roman Catholic or Protestant, he can and 
will be saved. In the church in Heaven, we 
shall meet saints arrayed in white robes from 
every quarter of the globe, north, south, east 
and west. All shall send souls to glory ; and 
we shall never dispute then about forms and 
ceremonies, but we shall find everlasting 
peace." She ceased, and such a light played 



LUCY AYLMER. 133 

in her eyes, that she seemed to have come 
down to earth from the heaven of which 
she spoke. 

The Padre did not upbraid her; but he 
crossed himself more than once on leaving 
the room, and murmured in a low voice, 
" She is mad !" And blindly Robert followed 
the fanatical old man, and left again his 
patient, heretic wife ; but her fair face 
haunted him throughout the remainder of 
that day. 



"It is Robert's birth-day," Maude said, 
as the first of November came round at 
Forsted. 

" Ah ! I wonder what he is doing with 
himself, the young good-for-nothing !" was the 
Squire's rejoinder. He and Maude were 
walking together the oft-taken walk along 
the Arminster road. 

" Let me see, it is a saint's day to-day," 
Maude said. " ' All Saints !' of course, they are 
celebrated with due pomp in Rome." 

" No folly is too great," muttered the 
Squire. " I wish that lad would come and bring 
my Lucy back. Then I should not care if 



134 LUCY AYLMER. 

Rome stood on its head, or did any monstrous 
thing. But I don't like my Lucy being 
exiled there — it does not bear thinking of." 

" She expresses herself contentedly m her 
letters," observed Maude ; " though they are 
almost too much occupied with general sub- 
jects to be satisfactory." 

" I almost wish Lucy were a grmiibler ; 
then we should discover the real state of 
things," said the Squire. " I often think 
there is a kind of reserve in her letters, as 
if something w^ere kept back." 

" Really, papa, we must hope the best," was 
Maude's reply. " Lucy is too good for any 
lasting harm to come to her." 

" Heigho !" sighed the Squire, " I wish 
every girl would be an old maid, and stop at 
home. I am sure it is the best place." 

Maude laughed and coloured. 

" You may laugh, Missey, if you hke," 
continued the Squire ; " but you know 
yourself it would have been ten thousand 
times better if our poor little Lucy had re- 
mained with me, and never seen that rascal 
of a husband of hers." 

" Lucy would tell you everything that 



LUCY AYLMER. 185 

happens is for the best," rephed ]\Iaude. 
" It was a pet saying of the poor dear child, 
though I confess T cannot always see it so. 
But, papa, who would have thought that Robert 
would turn out as he did ?" 

" Aye, no ; such a promising young fellow 
as he was ! How he did dote upon her ! I 
never saw such lovers as they were, and 
happy married folks too for the two first years. 
It was like going to heaven to be inside their 
house ! Not an angry word anywhere, even 
among the servants, who always swore they 
never had such a master or mistress before, 
and never expected to find them again. Lor 
me ! how this world changes !" 

" You must not change too, papa !" Maude 
said. 

" What do you mean, Maude, my queen ?" 
exclaimed her father, turning round towards 
her. 

" I mean, do not become dull, whatever 
happens. It is not your nature, papa." 

" I know it is not. But I cannot help 
feeling down sometimes when I think of my 
Lucy. A man does not like his daughters to 
be used as she has been. It goes against a 



136 LUCY AYLMER. 

man's whole nature." The Squire broke off 
with a whistle. 

" I wonder how much longer Aunt Augusta 
is going to remain at the Fairfields !" Maude 
said. 

" I can't see the fun she finds in being 
there at all/' replied her father. " If I 
were a single woman, it would bore my life 
out, to have young Fairfield dangling after 
me." 

" But you know Aunt Augusta likes ad- 
miration," said Maude. 

" Bless my soul ! that she does !" the 
Squire laughed. " I never saw such a girl as 
Augusta. Well, she has had her day of 
it." 

" Auntie would not be very well pleased if 
she heard you," said Maude. " She counts 
upon many another season." 

" Ha ! there goes Erresford !" exclaimed 
the Squire, as Cecil rode out by a gate leading 
from the St. Agnes woods on to the Arminster 
road. 

Maude's cheeks reddened, as she said : 

'' He does not see us." 

" Doesn't he though !" replied the Squire. 



LUCY AYLMER. 137 

Cecil wheeled his horse round, and rode 
quickly up to them. 

" Are you going to walk to Arminster, Miss 
Neville ?" Cecil said playfully, as he dis- 
mounted and shook hands with her and the 
Squire. 

Maude smiled '* We have ridden so much 
lately," she replied, "that we are giving the 
horses a rest, and are going to wander along 
the hills for a change." 

" What a capital horse you have got there," 
said the Squire. 

" Yes, he is a first-rate fellow. I bought 
him last week of Captain Prescott for my 
brother ; and De Walden wishes me to ride 
him once or twice to be certain he has no 
tricks." 

The Squire walked up to the horse, patted 
him, smoothed his mane, and said : 

" You are a good stepper, my fine fellow, 
I see." 

"Mount him, Mr. Neville," said Cecil, 
" and give your opinion of his paces." 

The Squire did not require to be invited 
twice. He was up in a mmute, took Cecil's 
whip, and rode off' along the steep road. 



138 LUCY AYLMER. 

Cecil watched him a moment, then turned 
to Maude. 

. " Have you received news from Rome 
lately ?" he asked. 

" We had our own weekly letter yesterday. 
Poor Lucy writes peacefully ; yet I am con- 
vinced she is not happy." Maude took a 
letter from her pocket and opened it. " Just 
listen to this page," she said, walking slowly 
on as she read : " ' We live a quiet life, 
unbroken by any excitement. Dear Ro- 
bert is necessarily much from home, as his 
.Church imposes upon him the attendance 
on many services. I am sure people must 
think him very good ; for they seem to 
take so much interest in his welfare. Even 
Lady Anne Erresford speaks pleasingly of 
him. You will be grieved to learn that he 
has grown very thin and pale. How a breath 
of dear Eorsted air would revive him ! Per- 
haps our sweet hill-side air may blo^v on us 
sooner than we expect. I have a sort of 
presentiment that I am going home. Some- 
times it comes over me so strongly that I can 
scarcely refrain from packing up our things. 
No Eorsted breezes could possibly suit my 



LUCY AYLMER. 139 

Harry better than this air does. He is a 
complete " young England" — such rosy cheeks 
and coral lips ! and he has spirits enough to 
prevent any one being dull. He groY\s daily 
more like dear papa. I msh he could see his 
' little Phil ;' but, perhaps, he would spoil him. 
All grandpapas do ! Stevens and I often talk 
of you all, and try to fancy what you are 
doing, particularly on Sunday afternoon, when 
I imagine you and dear papa taking our old 
walks among the hills, and up the stony lanes. 
It seems but yesterday that I walked with you 
— only yesterday since Robert took possession 
of his living. 

" ' But I must not look back — I find it is 
a bad habit. Look onward and look upward, 
that is best. Looking backward plunges me 
into day-dreams, and unfits me for daily oc- 
cupations, whereas looking forward makes 
me feel hopeful : and looking upward — oh ! 
Maude, darling, it makes me feel strong- 
hearted, peaceful, and thankful ! 

" ' I wish you would send me some autumn 
leaves from the old beech-tree — any little me- 
mentoes of Worsted are precious — and tell me 
all about my poor old women, and if Tawney 



140 LUCY AYLMER. 

still dozes away his days on the door-mat. 
Dear old doggie ! how often I have sat by 
his side, with one hand over his neck, while 
with the other I fed him with pieces of meat 
begged with difficulty from our inexorable 
cook ! I had no idea of the strength of 
Sarah's affection for me, till we came to part ; 
then — oh ! the tears ! — how every one cried ! 
What a joyful day it will be when we return ! 
Over again, at the risk of being tedious, I 
must tell you how strong my presentiment is, 
that my own dear husband will yet preach 
in old St. Walburga. What a day of re- 
joicing that would be ! 

" ' If Mr. Erresford is at Castle St. Agnes, 
do make him my most affectionate regards. 
I sometimes fancy if he were to come to 
Rome, he might have an influence over 
Robert, counteracting that of Padre Anastasio. 
Influence for good must in the end over- 
power the ill. The more I see of the Roman 
Catholic Church, the more I shudder at the 
thought that he who is dearer to me than my 
own life, should be in its trammels ; but God 
can take him out of them, impossible though 
it now seems, surrounded as he is by priestly 



LUCY AYLMER. 141 

influence, which has a strange fascination over 
so many. People, once within its power, do 
not even think for themselves ! 

" ' But, dear me, what a long letter this 
is ! I must conclude it hastily, and give 
dear papa the rest of my paper. Fare-thee- 
well, best of sisters ! Pray for me every day, 
and particularly in church on Sunday, as then 
I am always praying for you. Ask for me 
that I may be patient and humble, and 
' fight the good fight,' so that I may receive a 
crown of reward. How the dear old martyrs 
used to sing through everything ! Whenever 
I find myself disagreeable, and inclined to 
complain, I think of them and sing. Then I 
forget all around, and feel myseK almost in 
Heaven !' " 

Here Maude paused. She looked at 
Cecil, and — could she be mistaken ? — She 
fancied he hurried away a tear. Her own 
eyes glistened. 

" Is she not an angel ?" Maude ex- 
claimed. 

" She is, indeed !" Cecil said. He looked 
very thoughtful as he added, *' I wish we had 
her safely here." 



142 LUCY AYLMER. 

The Squire, who had been riding on far 
a-head, now came trotting back. Maude 
hastily put her letter again in her pocket. 

"I would give a couple of hundred for 
him, any day," the Squire said. 

Cecil smiled, but he looked abstracted as 
he replied : 

"Then I was not cheated." 

CeciFs thoughts were far away in Rome. 
Lucy's letter sounded to him prophetic ; she 
was more fit for Heaven than earth. He 
shuddered at the thought. There was no- 
thing terrible in death connected with Lucy 
Aylmer, but there was something very sad in 
the idea of one so young dying far away 
from kindred and home ! <^Why did such 
gloomy thoughts enter Cecil's mind ? He 
did not know ; but when once they were there, 
he could not get rid of them — they haunted 
him ; and Lucy's message haunted him. 
Could he be of any use to llobert ? Could 
he overpower the Padre's reasonings ? Hard 
task though this seemed, he would try. 

Cecil's friendship was very strong within 
him, and it carried him that very week away 
from the Worsted hills. And Maude — and 



LUCY AYLMER. 143 

Maude ! did he mind parting from her ? We 
ask the Porsted hills the reason why, and, 
instead of answering our words, echo seems 
to crv, " Whv not ?" 



144 LUCr AYLMER. 



CHAPTER VII. 

" Oh ! art thou here ? Come here to see me ! 

Too, too kind !" 

" I fear, I fear 
Thou art not as I would — tears in thine eyes. 
And anguish in thy face ! How hast thou fared ?" 

JOANNA BAILLTE. 

An organ filled the arches with its heavenly 
strains, and the voices of priests and choristers 
sounded melodiously. The subdued light 
among the lines of beautiful columns, the 
exquisitely decorated roof, the altars, the pic- 
tures, dazzled and attracted even the eyes 
of an habitue who strolled along, loitering here 
and there to drink in the strain that floated 
on the air. A priest passed by with a 



LUCY AYLMER. 145 

scowl on his brow ; close after the priest came 
a young man mth eyes fixed on the gromid, 
who saw nothing, but his own torturing 
thoughts. Then came some more priests also 
eyeing the ground, and when these had passed, 
the loiterer strolled on, and as he strolled, he 
came suddenly upon a small figure, solitary 
and alone, sitting on the basement of one of 
Santa Maria Maggiore's huge pillars. Her 
head leant heavily against the cold stone, her 
hands were clasped together in her lap, and 
her eyes, heavenly and bright, glanced far 
away, as though she already saw into the 
land of spirits. The priest in the marble 
chapel wdth book and bell, incense and 
genuflections, had no apparent interest for 
her ; but the music rolling gloriously along — 
so vividly exquisite to the ear, that the eyes 
were spontaneously lifted, as if the sounds 
were wings and floated on the air, though it 
had little charm for the praying zealous 
devotees, yet seemed sent by heaven expressly 
as a balm to soothe the heart's woes of the 
silent, suffering stranger. An elderly lady in 
mourning, who, book in hand, was passing 
slowly along, paused and looked in pity and 

VOL. III. H 



146 LUCY AYLMER. 

amazement, at the small, still figure, alone 
in the shade and beauty of that grand old 
church, but she too passed by, and still 
Lucy remained. The habitue also stood a few 
moments near her, but seeing she did not 
raise her eyes, he turned away, and continued 
his stroll, always, however, seeming to keep 
her in view. But with untiring patience, she 
sat alone in the silent aisle, if perchance she 
might catch her husband's glance, and be able 
to bestow on him a loving smile ; but he passed 
her by on his exit with studiously averted 
head. She watched him gone with a band of 
dark-clad, dark-browed companions ; and when 
the poor deluded worshippers had streamed 
away, she rose to depart, with the look nearest 
approaching despair, that had ever appeared 
on her fair young face. She glanced around 
the lofty aisles, she cast her gaze up at the 
fretted roof, and let it linger there, blinded by 
her tears ; then to her mind came the thought, 
" Weeping may endure for a night, but joy 
cometh in the morning." It came so vividly, 
so like reality, that she almost fancied she 
heard it spoken : she turned round instinctively, 
but no one was near. The autumn day was 



LUCY AYLMER. 147 

beginning to close in ; she thought her Httle 
Harry would be missing her at home, and 
walked with quick, but uneven steps, towards 
the great portico. Suddenly some one ad- 
dressed her. 

" Mrs. Aylmer !" Surprise made her tremble 
as she saw Cecil before her. Was he to bring 
back the joy at last ? "I have been trying to 
make you see me for at least ten minutes," he 
said, in his cheerful voice. '' I began to revolve 
in my own mind the probability of your 
intending to pass the night in this cold 
church." 

" It becomes so soon dark now," Lucy 
replied, '' but you cannot think how you 
surprised me. You were the last person I 
expected to meet here." 

" It was a sudden freak of mine, this visit ; 
but I must not keep you in the draught of 
this door. You will not refuse me the pleasure 
of seeing you home ? We can converse as we 
go along." Lucy took his offered arm. " I 
arrived here this morning," he continued, 
" and have been trying to find Robert, 
assiduously hunting him up, but in vain, at 
length, in this church, I discovered him ; but 

H 2 



148 LUCY AYLMER. 

he was so hemmed in with priests, there was 
no approaching him. 

Lucy sighed but did not speak. 

" Do you expect to find Robert at home ?" 
Cecil asked. 

" I scarcely think it probable," she repHed, 
" though I cannot tell. I have seen him very 
little this week." 

" Mrs. Aylmer/' Cecil began, " you must 
excuse my so suddenly entering upon family 
affairs ; but is Robert still under priestly 
guidance ? If so, I have come to Rome ex- 
pressly for his sake, to use my utmost powers 
to liberate him from their grasp." 

Lucy's look expressed the gratitude for 
which she had no words. " Poor Robert !" 
she sighed, " he would be very different if it 
were not for Pather Anastasio " 

"To what purpose does he devote his 
time ?" Cecil asked. 

" When I came, he was preparing for the 
priesthood," she replied. "What he does 
now, I scarcely know." 

" Poor fellow !'* murmured Cecil, " what 
arguments does he bring forth in favour of his 
extraordinary change ?" 



LUCY AYLMER. 149 

" None !" replied Lucy, " he only talks of 
the blessedness of belonging to the Romish 
Church." 

"Does the Padre Anastasio often visit him 
at his own residence?" asked Cecil again. 

" Robert is very seldom at home ; but the 
Padre comes to me frequently, and so does 
Lady Anne. They want me to go into a 
convent," Lucy said, sadly. 

Cecil almost stood still with amazement, 
exclaiming : " Want you to enter a convent, 
Mrs. Aylmer?" 

" You see, Robert would be at liberty to 
enter the priesthood then," Lucy meekly 
replied. 

" Upon my word !" Cecil said. " I had no 
idea it had come to this. I should think 
between my sister and the priest, you are 
very much persecuted ?" 

"I did not like it at first, but I bear it 
pretty well now," she said, with a sweet, 
childlike smile. 

" No one would bear it so beautifully but 
yourself," he exclaimed, while his face was 
still flushed with indignation at her treat- 
ment. 



150 LUCY AYLMER. 

" What would you have me do ?" she 
replied, again smiling. " I cannot refuse to see 
the Padre every time he chooses to come, 
though my maid did send him away yester- 
day, without letting me know ; for I was tired 
and asleep after dinner. She told him," con- 
tinued Lucy, " that I could not be distm^bed 
for any one. Stevens is braver than I should 
have been." 

" Bravo, Stevens !" exclaimed Cecil, good- 
mouredly. 

"She is a dreadful enemy to the Padre," 
said Lucy ; " and one day when she thought 
he had been persecuting me longer than 
usual, in his efforts for my conversion, she 
let a box fall heavily in the adjoining room 
to attract my attention, and while I ran to 
see what was the matter, the Padre went ; 
but he carried off my brown Bible, which I 
had left on the table vdth him. But if he 
were to take all the Bibles in the universe 
from my sight, he could never take the pre- 
cepts out of my heart !" she added, fer- 
vently. 

"What a thieving scoundrel!" said Cecil, 
indignantly. 



LUCr AYLMER. 151 

" He is extremely kind in his way 
to Robert, and lie is generally very civil 
to me," Lucy remarked, as if by way of 
excuse. 

" He ought always to be so, I think," 
replied Cecil. He was silent for some minutes, 
and when he spoke again, it was not of 
Rome but of Forsted. 

Lucy's present severe trials had, if pos- 
sible, strengthened her love of home, and 
she had many questions to ask about her 
father and Maude. These were all satisfac- 
torily answered, and by that time they had 
reached the house where Lucy lived. She 
invited Cecil in, but no Robert was there. 
Cecil could not help contrasting her snug 
parsonage home with the dull floor high up 
in a gloomy street. 

Lucy's neat hand and pretty taste were 
visible about the room ; but there was a 
bareness and a lack of comforts that were 
distressing to him. 

"Ah!" he said to himself, ''it is weU her 
father and Maude cannot see this !" 

Lucy had gone to fetch her little boy, and 
Cecil opened some books on a side table. 



152 LUCY AYLMER. 

" George Herbert," and " Longfellow's 
Poems," these were Lucy's ; but " Lives 
of the Saints," and " Services to the Saints," 
with divers other books bearing extraordi- 
nary titles, these belonged to her misguided 
husband. 

While Cecil was looking at these, Lucy 
returned. She had removed her bonnet and 
cloak ; and then, for the first time, Cecil was 
struck with the startling change that had taken 
place in her. Her face had become very 
thin and pale, and her soft eyes wore an 
imploring look, as if she were always plead- 
ing with some one; but a beautiful, laugh- 
ing boy bounded forward, then retreated, 
hiding himself m his mother's dress ; and 
Cecil's mind was diverted from Lucy to his 
little godson. 

It grew dark, and tea was brought in, 
but no Robert made his appearance. Sud- 
denly Lucy remembered, that on Saturday 
evening the Marchesa Elmo always held a 
reception. 

" Ah ! now I remember she does," ex- 
claimed Cecil. "I shall go there myself; 
undoubtedly I shall meet Robert. I never 



LUCY AYLMER. 153 

knew Anastasio miss an evening, when I have 
been in Rome before." 

" Oh ! I hope you will see Robert !" Lucy 
said anxiously. 

" You may depend I will, Mrs. Aylmer. 
Robert shall not escape me," Cecil replied 
smiling. '' I will try and see if I cannot be a 
match for old Anastasio." 

" The Padre seems a person of strange 
fascinations to members of his own church. 
Lady Anne idolizes him." 

" Anne is a wilful girl ; but Robert's faults 
are only weakness of character and im- 
pressibility. I have known him well from 
boyhood. He is deeply sensible of persuasion 
and kindness ; and you may depend he is 
just the sort of person to be easily led away, 
and easily brought back." 

"I am very glad you have come," Lucy 
said in a hopeful tone. 

" I could not rest quietly any longer," he 
repHed. " Robert wants some strong hand 
to extricate him from the web in which he is 
entangled. I wish we could get him away 
from this place." 

'' Oh, so do I !" Lucy exclaimed eagerly. 

H 3 



154 LUCY AYLMER. 

" We will try," Cecil said. " Good night, 
Mrs. Aylmer ; good night, little Harry — you 
must not hide away from me when I come 
agam f 

" Good-bye— good-bye !" shouted the little 
fellow, as Lucy held open the door, that the 
hght might fall on Cecil down the gloomy 
dark staircase. She heard his footsteps 
retreat into the street ; and with little Harry 
still repreating " good-byes " in a whisper to 
himself, she went back into her o^vn room 
again, and smiled as she caught sight of her- 
self in an old mirror — her face wore such a 
hopeful, happy expression. 

Cecil went to the Marchesa's reception. It 
was late when he arrived. The first person he 
encountered was his sister. 

" Ah ! Anne," he exclaimed, " you look 
amazed at seeing me here !" 

" I am amazed, Cecil, at nothing you do," 
she answered. "Did you leave my mother 
and De Walden weU ?" 

" Flourishing both. I saw Mora before I 
left, and she seems in improved spirits." 

" No bad thing," said Lady Anne, dryly. 
" Have you seen the Aylmers ?" 



LUCY AYLMER. 155 

" Lucy and her boy ; but I have not been 
able to find Robert." 

"He is somewhere here 'v\dth the Padre 
Anastasio ; he looks miserably ill. I think his 
fooHsh child of a wife must be a trial to 
him." 

"I will not allow you to say so, Anne/' 
said Cecil gravely. "If one has a trial in 
the other — Lucy has it in him." 

"I suppose she has been complaining," 
remarked her Ladyship, with a look of 
contempt. 

"Did you ever hear her utter a single 
complaint of any one, much less of her 
husband?" said Cecil earnestly. 

"No!" Lady Anne rephed, "for she has 
no one to complain of — but herself." 

" I thought you had more feeling, Anne," 
her brother said with a sigh. 

" In some respects, I do feel for the poor 
little misguided thing. I feel for her obsti- 
nacy in withstanding all the efforts made 
for her conversion." m 

" I rejoice she does w^ithstahd them — brave 
soul ! She will have her reward ! ' Blessed 
are they which suffer for righteousness 



156 LUCY AYLMER. 

sake !'" Lady Anne shrugged her shoulders 
and turned away. Cecil looked after her a 
compassionate look; then, seeing her stand 
still, alone, he followed her and said, in the 
most winning tones of his peculiarly win- 
ning voice : " Anne, I really do care for 
you ; do not shun me. We differ widely in 
faith, I regret it deeply. But we might be 
united in a true and kindly brotherly and 
sisterly love, one for the other." Lady 
Anne's lip curled with a supercilious smile, 
^as she said ; 

"Really, Cecil, one would imagine we 
were children !" 

" Surely as we advance in years, we need 
lose none of childhood's warmth ?" Cecil 
replied. 

" Worthy brother !" she said ; " have you 
not yet learned there are divers tempera- 
ments in this great world ?" 

" Worthy Anne !" Cecil rejoined playfully, 
" I have learned there would be many warmer, 
truer hearts in this world, if they were not 
self- crushed 1" 

" I prefer calm, good sense to sentiment," 
Lady Anne said. " I despise sentiment." 



LUCT ATLMER 157 

" You include earthly affection under that 
term, Anne ?" 

" Earthly affection is well and good enough 
in its place, but not when it is made an 
idol, and worshipped in the stead of holy 
things." 

" I would rather make an idol of my wife 
than of a saint," Cecil said rather warmly. 

" When does the marriage take place ?*' 
asked her ladyship, satirically. 

"When the Lady Anne will come and 
add to the happiness of the ceremony by 
her presence," replied the not to be provoked 
Cecil. 

" Perhaps I shall invite you to mine before 
then," she said. 

" To yours, Anne !" exclauned Cecil. 

" Yes," she replied, to mine ; " but I aspire 
to no common bridegroom. I shall never 
approach the hymeneal altar, but to wed my- 
self to Heaven!" 

Cecil gazed at her in amazement, and while 
he looked, she turned away. 

" Can it be possible," he said aloud, " that 
I shall ever have the sorrow and humiliation 
of seeing a sister of mine enter a convent ?" 



158 LUCY AYLMER. 

He walked across the rooms with a cloud 
hanging o'er his brow; suddenly he came 
upon Robert. The lynx-eyed Padre was not 
very far off. 

" Well, Robert, old fellow, we have met 
again, at last 1" Cecil exclaimed, shaking him 
warmly by the hand. 

" An unexpected pleasure !" replied Robert, 
who turned pale as he rose to welcome his 
former friend. 

" I have been twice to your quarters to-day, 
in the hope of finding you," Cecil said, " and, 
at last, 1 began to despair." 

" I am necessarily very much from home," 
Robert repUed. 

" A shocking confession for a married man 
to make !" remarked Cecil good-temperedly. 
" I should have thought with such a wife and 
boy as yours, you would have been completely 
occupied with them." 

" Duty first, and pleasure afterwards !'* 
Robert replied with a faint smile. 

"We must first define the meaning of 
the words ' duty and pleasure,' " Cecil said 
cheerfully. 

Robert sighed, and looked round to Padi-e 



LUCY AYLMER. 159 

Anastasio. The Padre, however, was apparently 
deep in conversation with the holy Hubert, 
and bent his head down in wrapt attention 
to the discourse of that worthy. 

"I have missed you dreadfully from 
Forsted, Aylmer," Cecil said. "It is the 
place of all others that I love best, and the 
place where I like my friends to con- 
gregate." 

" Have you been residing there lately ?" 
Robert asked. 

" Why, yes, I found Hatchworth dull and 
soKtary ; and my brother likes me to stay as 
much as possible at St. Agnes. My mother is 
at Wood Hall at present, entertaining a house 
full of guests, Sangford and Flora among 
them. Now, Aylmer, you have a short sketch 
of the family whereabouts." 

Robert smiled. 

" And the Manor party ! Have you good 
news of them ?" 

" Oh ! they are flourishing ; but a little bit 
anxious about you and your Lucy." 

" I am surprised at that," said Robert, " as 
they hear so often from Lucy." 

And soon did Cecil and Robert converse 



160 LUCY AYLMER. 

uninterrupted by priestly interference till a 
late hour. It would not have been politic, 
had Padre Anastasio joined them. It might 
appear to Cecil as if he watched Robert ; and 
the Padre, who played his part well, avoided 
scrupulously every appearance of this ; though 
covertly and cautiously he noticed and heard 
all that passed between the two young men. 

Cecil insisted, when the hour came for his 
departure, that Robert should leave with him. 
He would take no refusal, and, moreover, 
Cecil would have Robert alone. 

They walked through the streets quickly, 
till they reached the hotel, where Cecil had 
taken up his quarters, and which was not far 
distant from the Marchesa's palace. 

They both went in. Cecil said it would 
remind him of old times, if they supped to- 
gether. Robert sat passively down in an arm- 
chair in Cecil's room. Cecil reposed himself at 
full length on a sofa, while the supper was 
being prepared, and then he exclaimed : 

" Well, Bob, you see I am at my old trick 
again, of not leaving you to yourself !'* 

" Did you come to Rome expressly to see 
me ?" Robert asked, braver now he was out of 



LUCY AYLMER. 161 

sight of the Padre, at once his terror and his 
veneration. 

" Expressly," replied Cecil. " I wanted to 
see what you were about ; you must be awfully 
duU here in Rome. It is bad for your health 
and spirits to live up in that dingy house, 
and court solitude in choosing such a 
home !" 

" Thank you, it suits me very well," was 
Robert's rejoinder. 

" You look as if it suited you very ill. I 
should think yoa weigh many pounds hghter 
than when I saw you last. You appear half- 
starved. I wiH wager you are not the kind 
of fellow to stand too many fast days !" 

Robert looked up at Cecil's cheerful, 
handsome countenance — he had expected 
questionings and rebuke, and was utterly 
taken by surprise at the joking pleasant 
tone in which he found himself ad- 
dressed. 

" How you do call back old days, Bob !" 
Cecil went on. "Eton, Oxford, vacation 
trips, all return as vividly to my mind as if 
they had only just happened. What a 



162 LUCY AYLMER. 

wretched fellow you always were, to look 
after your own concerns; and such a nice 
easy prey to avaricious old landladies ! 

Robert laughed. 

"Do you recollect those double bills at 
Oxford, and how meekly you were going 
to pay them over again — till I took you in 
hand?" 

Robert smiled as he replied, " You often 
came to the rescue." 

" I have come for that now. Bob. I am 
tired of dancing after my lady mother from 
Essex to Somerset, und so welter, and 
nothing pleased my head better than an 
idea which took possession of it, to endea- 
vour to find you out. You bad fellow never 
to write to me ! And then 1 intended to 
ask you and Mrs. Aylmer to take a little 
tour with me somewhere or other. What do 
you think of the plan?" 

"There is so much to consider before I 
can move from here," Robert replied in a 
dolorous tone. 

" Aylmer, you are past the age for lead- 
ing strings now," Cecil said. " Be your own 



LUCY AYLMER. 163 

master, my dear fellow ; if you choose to 
accompany me, there is nothing to pre- 
vent you." 

Robert looked down as he replied, " I 
must consult my friends." 

" What friends, Bob ?" Cecil asked, rising 
on his elbow, and fixing on Robert's puzzled 
timid countenance his honest gaze. 

" I do not think you are acquainted with 
their names ; and, therefore, it is useless men- 
tioning them," Robert repKed in a hurried 
tone. 

"Why, bless you, Aylmer, I knew old 
Anastasio before I knew you — and he stands 
at the head of the list. Now, confess, it is no 
use to endeavour to keep secrets from me, is 
it. Bob ?" 

"Padre Anastasio has been unboundedly 
kind, and so have others of his brethren 
with whom I have become acquainted." 

Cecil rose up suddenly, and putting 
his hands on Robert's shoulders, said in 
a tone between argument and reproof, 
" Aylmer, has not your wife been very kind 
to you?" 

Robert started; and two deep white lines 



164 LUCY AYLMER. 

settled round his mouth. He did not speak, 
and Cecil went on. 

"It is not. No, it really is not fair to 
leave your poor little wife all alone for days 
and days together, with no one to protect her 
but her maid. It is not like a man, Aylmer, it 
is not indeed !'* 

Cecil spoke in an earnest, straightforward 
manner, beneath which Robert seemed 
cowed. 

" Surely, Bob, because you change your 
creed, that need not alter your love ? First 
to leave her, and then, when she joins you, 
almost to forsake her ; and to allow her to be 
tortured by the visits of a proselytizing 
priest, and my misguided sister ; and such an 
unoffending little wife as yours is ! If you did 
not intend to treat her better, upon my word, 
you should not have married her !" 

" There I erred !" rephed Robert in a stifled 
tone. " You cannot upbraid me more than T 
do myself." 

" 1 do not see why you should have acted 
otherwise. You had loved her all your life. 
What has she done to change you so sud- 
denly?" 



LUCY AYLMER. 165 

" Oh ! nothing, nothing !" Robert mur- 
mured ; '' but Erresford, it is impossible — you 
cannot understand. You cannot know all 
the causes, the reasons — " 

"Then I am to understand that you 
have ceased to love your wife ?" said 
Cecil coldly. 

" No, never !" Robert exclaimed, while 
the colour rushed to his hollow, pale 
cheeks. 

" Forgive me those hasty words, Aylmer," 
Cecil continued ; "but when I think of your 
wife as I saw her this afternoon — forlorn, neg- 
lected — yet bearing all with the patience of an 
angel, and remember what she was when I 
saw her first, her life happy and cloudless, 
the contrast makes me mad ! Only consider 
quietly what would your feelings be, if you 
went to her now in sorrow for all the grief 
you have occasioned her, and saw her dead, 
and knew that you yourself were the cause ! 
that you, who had promised and vowed to pro- 
tect and cherish her, had from coldness, and 
neglect, broken her heart !" 

Robert trembled from head to foot. 

" It is a fearful thing," Cecil went on ; " it 



166 LUCr AYLMER. 

makes me shudder to think of it ! But I 
must make you acquainted, Aylmer, Avith 
what your wife's maid told me, only a few 
hours ago — that lately your Lucy has been 
attacked by strange, sudden fits of fainting. 
Last week, I think it was, she became in- 
sensible for so long, that her maid called a 
doctor, and he told Stevens, in confidence, 
one of these fits might carry her off 1" 

Cecil's voice was husky as he uttered these 
words. He turned, away, and paced up and 
down the room. 

" Oh ! why was I never told this before ?" 
Robert exclaimed bitterly. 

" Because," replied Cecil, " your devoted 
wife, who thinks and cares so much more 
for you than you do for her, would not have 
you distressed by the knowledge of her ill- 
ness. Mind, she knows nothing herself of 
what the doctor said. Stevens told me when 
Mrs. Aylmer was out of the room." 

Cowed, stupified, and bewildered, Robert 
remained gazing on th^ floor. Cecil's flash- 
ing eyes were fixed upon him at each turn. 
Suddenly he paused in his walk, and standing 
before Robert, he exclaimed : 



LUCY AYLMER. 167 

" From boyhood till now, we have been to 
each other as friend and brother. I should 
be unworthy those names, did I leave you to 
pursue your own headstrong course without 
putting forth a hand to save you." 

Still silence, still averted look, and bent- 
down head ! 

" Aylmer, answer me one question : will 
you continue to give your sanction to Padre 
Anastasio's daily visits of torturing persua- 
sions to induce your young wife to leave 
you? 

"Padre Anastasio is his own master. I 
dare not dictate to him," was Ptobert's 
answer. 

"Plesh and blood cannot stand this 1" 
Cecil exclaimed. " Aylmer, is this man so 
dear to you, that you suffer him to become 
the torment of your Lucy's perhaps fast- 
fleeting life ? Oh, Robert ! you were wont 
to be so tender-hearted once, you could not 
even bear to hear of any suffering ; and do 
you now disregard all the agony and sorrow 
which the Lucy whom your young days 
idoHzed, suffers in your absence ?" 

Cecil's voice, Cecil's words, touched a 



168 LUCY AYLMER. 

chord in Robert's poor, stifled heart. He 
threw himself on his knees by the table, on 
which his head sank heavily ; and the walls of 
that gilded room echoed back his repentant 
sobs. 



LUCY AYLMER. 169 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Forbear such wild and frantic sorrow now. 
And speak to her while she is sensible, 
And can receive thy words. She looks on thee, 
And looks imploringly. 

JOANNA BAILLIE, 

It was the Sabbath morning : the clock 
had struck one. Robert bade Cecil good- 
night at the entrance to his house, and 
ascended alone the dull, dark staircase. He 
was in a very different frame of mind than 
he would have been if he had had the Padre 
Anastasio for his companion. Cecil had 
filled his heart with soft thoughts towards 
his wife — such gentle thoughts, that, in his 
great repentance for the wrongs he had done 
her, and the sorrow he had caused, he was 

VOL. III. I 



170 LUCY AYLMEK. 

actually planning to remove her from Rome, 
not to Porsted, but to some equally quiet 
English village, where he would atone for his 
past neglect by his kind, loving conduct ; and 
if she interfered not with his worship, the 
least he could do, as Cecil told him, was to 
allow her to continue her holy life, undis- 
turbed, in the faith of her fathers. 

He had come to the bold conclusion, under 
Cecil's protection, not to take the counsels of 
the Padre concerning his wife. How could 
the Padre tell what he felt towards her, or 
know what was the duty of a husband? 
Robert opened the sitting-room door very 
softly, and in a very penitent frame, with a 
loving speech already prepared for his Lucy. 
Por the first time since her residence in 
Rome, she had not sat up for him. He was 
alarmed, and remained a moment looking 
around the room. Prom the adjoining apart- 
ment sounds of voices issued. He knew not 
why, but his heart died within him, and he 
stood still, trembling, with a dull, foreboding 
feeling of ill hanging over him. 

The door of Lucy's room slowly opened, 
and an elderly man, looking very grave, came 



LUCY AYLMER 171 

out. Robert felt as if he should sink to the 
ground, as he recognized an English physi- 
cian, whom Padre Anastasio had pointed out 
to him only a few days previously. Robert's 
face was pale and haggard, and the stern 
expression the doctor wore, was instantly 
changed to one of pity. 

" Your wife has been very ill, Mr. Aylmer," 
he said, in a low tone. 

Robert stared at him a moment, then in an 
agitated voice asked. 

" What has happened ?" 

The doctor handed him a chair, and made 
him sit down. 

" You must be as composed as possible," 
he said, '' a great deal depends upon jon. 
Mrs. Aylmer has had a very severe fainting 
fit from which 1 feared we should never rouse 
her." 

He looked at Robert, whose lips quivered. 

'' May 1 not go to her?" were all the words 
they could frame. 

" Yes, presently ! but you must wait until 
you are perfectly calm — poor lady, the first 
word she spoke on recovering, was your 
name !" 

I 2 



172 LUCY AYLMER. 

Robert looked completely stunned. 

'' She will get better ?" he said, fixing 
his eyes eagerly on the doctor's coun- 
tenance. 

" Disease of the heart is to be feared," was 
the reply, while a tear glistened in the eye of 
the speaker. " I have noticed her Sunday after 
Sunday at the English church, and admired 
the patient, sweet expression of her coun- 
tenance, wondering who she was." 

" I was just thinking of taking her home to 
England," Robert murmured. 

''It is a pity she was ever taken from 
England," was the short reply. The doctor 
rose and went back to Lucy's room, and 
Robert was left alone. He did not invoke the 
Virgin Mary nor the Saints in this hour of 
trial ; but the cry that ascended to heaven was 
" Oh, God, pardon me !" and covering his face 
with his hands, he recalled Cecil's words : 

"What would you feel, did you return 
home and find her dead, and know that you 
yourself were the cause ?" 

He stifled a groan, and looking up, saw 
Stevens was standing by his side. 



LUCY AYLMER. 173 

" You may go to her now, Sir, but you must 
please not to agitate her." 

Stevens spoke in a dictatorial tone, and 
her face wore an expression as if she despised 
her master from her very heart. 

Lucy was looking anxiously for Robert. 
When he came in, she smiled faintly, and held 
out her hand ; Robert stooped and kissed 
her. 

" Oh ! darling Lucy," he murmured, " how 
grieved I am." 

She looked so still and death-like, lying 
back on a pile of white pillows, that 
Robert could scarcely speak, he was so agi- 
tated. 

Lucy seemed to read his feelings, for she 
said. 

" I shall soon be well again, Robert ! pray 
do not be anxious." 

"We will go home when you are well, 
darhng, directly — home to Forsted and papa 
and Maude." Robert knelt on the floor by 
her bed-side, and she held his hand in both 
of hers. 

" Delightful ! thank you, dear Robert," she 
faintly replied. 



174 LUCY AYLMER. 

" You do not suffer now, darling ?" Robert 
said anxiously. 

" No, not now you are here," and again she 
smiled. 

There is one verse in the Bible, Robert had 
never perfectly realized before. " If thine 
enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give 
him drink ; for in so doing, thou shalt 
heap coals of fire on his head !" Robert felt 
the " coals of fire " now — Oh ! if she had 
only upbraided him, he could perhaps have 
borne it ! 

" Shall I read you to sleep, Lucy darling, 
as I used sometimes at home ?" Robert asked 
tenderly. 

" If you would be so kind, Robert ?" she 
said, in a contented and peaceful tone. 

Robert hesitated a moment what to read. 
The Bible Lucy loved best ; but Padre Anas- 
tasio had particulary enforced on him, it was 
a dangerous book for the laity. He was in a 
dilemma — when suddenly his eyes lighted on 
Keble's " Christian Year." He opened the 
book, and in slightly faltering but soothing 
tones, he repeated the " Evening Hymn " 
slowly, sometimes pausing at Lucy's favourite 



LUCY AYLMER, 175 

vei'ses ; and when he had ended, and his voice 
ceased, the loved eyes that had been fixed 
watchingly on his face, were closed, and she 
slept, the cool air from the Campagna blowing 
fresh over her face through the open window. 
Robert had forgotten the existence of the 
physician, till his hand rested on Robert's 
shoulder, and in a whisper, he said. 

" Take care of her. I will return again at 
dayhght." Then he moved noiselessly away, 
and left Robert alone, watching by the bedside 
of the Squire's idolized child — of Maude's 
treasured sister, and his own long-tried here- 
tic wife. Did he doubt then that if angels 
bore her away in her sleep, they would carry 
her to heaven ? Doubt it ? oh, no 1 His 
mind was racked, tortured, for he thought 
he should never meet her there! Penances, 
absolutions, what were they then ? Saints 
and angels, what were they doing that they 
did not comfort him ? All the comfort of the 
Church had forsaken him, but all the per- 
secutions of his young w^ife stood out before 
him in bold relief. Despair and doubt 
floated around him, and this sjood son of 



176 LUCY AYLMER. 

the Church found no haven to flee into 
for safety. 

"Amidst the howling wintry sea, 
We are in port if we have Thee !" 

In those dreary hours which Robert 
passed by Lucy's bedside, watching her al- 
most colourless countenance — his old, old, 
passionate unaffected love returned with all 
its warmth and tenderness. He wove rapid 
and eager plans for transporting her home 
to Forsted ; he even revolved in his own 
mind, the probabihty of a certain pretty 
little verandahed cottage being tenantless, 
where he thought they could live at very 
little expense. For the journey home he 
must borrow of Cecil — he would not touch 
any more of Lucy's legacy — he reddened at 
the thought ; but for Lucy he could do 
anything. And he would work and pay 
Cecil again. Oh ! what care he would take 
of her from henceforth ! and with what 
delight he would spare her any trouble, any 
anxiety ! and in order that their income 
might be larger, he would endeavour, if 



LUCY AYLMER. 177 

possible, to get employment as daily tutor 
to some of the families in the neighbour- 
hood. 

The clock struck eight. Lucy still slept. 
Robert still formed plans, when the choir of 
a church near the house, broke forth into 
melodious strains. The clear, young voices 
of the choristers rose on the air with touch- 
ing sweetness. The sound awoke Lucy. She 
looked around bewildered. 

" It was like being aroused by angels," 
said she with a sweet smile. 

''It is the choir, dearest, chanting early 
service," Robert replied. 

" Poor children 1 they are singing praises 
as well as they can." She said this in a 
dreamy voice ; then turning to Robert, she 
exclaimed, "have you been sitting by me 
all this time. How w^earied you must be ?" 
she put out her hand and pushed the hair 
from off his brow. 

" Are you better, darling ?" Robert asked. 

" Oh, yes ! I have been dreaming I w^as 
at home ; and Claude and I were in the gar- 
den with Tawney, and we were both girls 
again." 

I 3 



178 LUCY AYLMER. 

"Directly you are well, darling, we will 
go," Robert said. " We shall have a very 
pleasant journey, for Cecil will travel with 
us. 

'* Have you seen him ?" Lucy asked. 

" I spent some time with him last night. 
He is as good and true-hearted as ever!" 

" Yes ! is he not ?" responded Lucy. 

" I wish I were like him," sighed Robert. 
" What a good husband he will make !" 

Lucy passed her hand fondly down Ro- 
bert's cheek. There was a moment's silence. 
Robert felt a choking sensation in his throat, 
and could not trust himself to speak. Lucy 
closed her eyes, and seemed as if she would 
sleep again, when suddenly she said : 

" Robert, dear, must you go out to-day ?" 

The imploring tone struck her husband to 
the heart, and he burst into tears. Lucy 
looked pained and distresses 1, and used all 
her strength in soothing him, till he sobbed 
forth : 

" Lucy, oh, Lucy ! I will never leave you 
again. I have neglected you cruelly, wickedly, 
but I will never do so again ! I vow it — oh, 
solemnly ! that you shall henceforth be dearer 



LUCY AYLMER. 179 

to me than everything — yes ! even clearer 
than the Church herself !" 

" Dearest husband !" Lucy said, " you al- 
ways have loved me. This last year, we 
have not been quite so happy together — your 
new religion stepped between us. But you 
thought it was all for the best." 

Robert heaved a deep sigh. "Can you for- 
give me ?" he said. 

" Indeed I can," she replied, with a smile. 
" I should be a strange wife if I could not ! 
Do not look so sad, Robert dear ! you have 
made me very happy : I can lie still and think 
of home now ; and how Maude looks, and 
papa, and all our old haunts and the familiar 
faces. I must get well so as to be there for 
Christmas- I have never once missed ' Hark 
the Herald Angels,' in Forsted church." 

" It shall not be my fault, if you miss it 
this year," Robert said. 

" It would not appear Christmas unless you 
went to church with me," Lucy replied 
timidly. 

" Oh, Lucy ! you must not expect too much 
of me." 



180 LUCY AYLMER. 

" No — no ! I was wrong, I forgot that our 
faith is no longer the same," she said sadly. 

" Do you still think mine is not the true 
one, dearest Lucy ?" Robert asked earnestly. 

"Yes, Robert, I know it is not," she 
replied. 

" What makes you think that ?" he en- 
quired. 

" Because the Bible says so," she answered, 
in a faint voice — a shade passed over her face, 
and her eyes closed heavily. 

Robert Avas extremely alarmed, and hasten- 
ed to find Stevens, upbraiding himself bitterly 
with having fatigued Lucy ; however, exactly 
at this moment the physician opportunely 
entered. Lucy was speedily revived, and 
Robert made to go and take some rest, the 
indefatigable Stevens dividing her time between 
her mistress and little Harry. 

About twelve o'clock. Padre Anastasio 
made his appearance. Little Harry hid himself 
beneath the sofa. " Is not Mr. Aylmer here ?" 
the Padre asked of Stevens. 

'' No, Sir," was the reply, while she slowly 
tmned the key of a door near her. 



LUCY AYLMER. 181 

*' Am I to understand he is not at home ?" 
and the Padre looked searchingly in her 
face. 

" I did not say that, Sir," she repKed, 
looking uncommonly pert, ''but master is 
asleep, and not to be disturbed on any con- 
sideration whatsoever. I had mv orders straight 
from the doctor. Sir." 

The Padre muttered something in Italian 
between his teeth, and then asked, " Is Mr. 
Aylmer ill then ?" 

" No, Sir, but mistress is, and master's been 
watching by her all night, and so now the 
doctor made him leave her to get some rest, 
because it distresses mistress to see him look 
so worn out." 

" But T want particularly to see your 
master. I can wait till he awakes." The Padre 
seated himself by the table, and opened a 
book, it was the " Pilgrim's Progress," an 
illustrated edition, which little Harry had had 
for his amusement, as the pictures could 
testify by the numberless Httle finger marks. 

" It is not much use waiting for master, 
Sir, because now he has once gone to sleep, 
it's Hkely he will sleep a good time." 



]82 ' LUCY AYLMER. 

" I can wait," was the terse reply. 

Stevens here quietly abstracted the key she 
had turned, and hurried it into her pocket. 
It was the key of the room where Robert was 
sleeping. 

" Has Mr. Erresford been here ?" asked 
the priest — here little Harry thought proper 
to put forth his head and call, " Ugly man — 
ugly man !" and pursed up his hps in a pout 
at the Padre, at which that dignitary looked 
surprised and bestowed on him the epithet of 
" little demon ;" the words, however, being in 
his own native Italian, failed in effect — and 
still crying, " Ugly man — ugly man !" the child 
shpped from his hiding-place, and made for 
his mother's room ; and before Stevens could 
stop him, he had bounded in and awoke her 
from a pleasant sleep, to the unpleasant 
consciousness that her heart's dread, the 
Padre, was in the adjoining apartment. This 
discovery put her into a trepidation, which 
was heightened by Harry, who had mounted 
her pillow calling every moment, " Mamma, 
ugly man — ugly man there — ugly man, all 
black; mamma, make him go away!" 

" Hush, Harry, hush ! that is very naughty, 



LUCY AYLMEa. 183 

you must be still," and Lucy strained every 
nerve to catch the sounds, and to hear if 
Robert were there ; but the only voices 
discernible, were the Padre speaking his 
gruffest, and Stevens her pertest. Lucy was 
alarmed : she trembled violently, and began to 
pray that Robert might not be fetched away 
from her. Presently Robert's voice was added 
to the others, and a door shook rather 
violently. Lucy's terror was increased, and 
scarcely kno\Aang what she did, she got up 
and began dressing hastily. The clamour in 
the sitting-room changed into a sudden 
quietude by the sound of a fall, and a scream 
from little Harry, who came running in 
crying, " Mamma's dead ! Mamma's dead." — 
In the midst of this confusion, the outer 
door opened, and Cecil Erresford entered. The 
bright look on his countenance changed to one 
of surprise and some alarm at the scene 
which presented itself to him ; the priest, his 
eyes flashing with anger, and the tones of his 
voice indignant. Stevens, her face crimson 
and tearful, darting across the ro*m, followed 
by Robert, whose countenance was deadly 
pale. Little Harry, who had been upset by 



184 LUCY AYLMER. 

Stevens, in her hurry, was screaming lustily. 
Cecil hastily lifted him up, took him in his 
arms, and in a few minutes, by the aid of his 
ticking watch, and a little coaxing, succeeded 
in quieting the child. Then he turned to the 
the Padre, who stood muttering to himself in 
angry tones. " What has happened. Padre?" 
he asked. 

" If I had my way, every heretic should be 
turned out of Rome !" he exclaimed, without 
heeding Cecil's enquiry. 

" Pray explain what occasions this disturb- 

" Mamma very ill," put in the child. 
" Mamma fall down." 

" Is Mrs. Aylmer ill ?" Cecil asked in a 
tone of alarm. 

" I know nothing of her ; but this I know, 
that you and she will have to answer for the 
soul of her husband !" and with this outburst 
the Padre left the room, shutting the door 
with a thundering sound, which echoed 
through the house. 

At his esit, Stevens returned. " Oh ! Sir, 
oh ! Mr. Erresford ! if you would go quick, 
for Dr. Bates — we've killed her between us ! 



LUCY AYLMER. 185 

I dare not leave master — he is nearly mad 1 
Oh ! if we had never set foot in this horrid 
place !" 

" What has happened to your mistress ?" 
Cecil asked of the frightened maid. 

" Oh, Sir ! she has fainted dead off again, 
all through that meddling old priest ! and I, 
thinking it all for the best — locked master s 
door — and the priest — oh ! Sir, he was in a 
fury ! though I did open it directly master 
awoke, and shook the lock — oh, we have been 
the death of her ! she is dead now, I know 
it !" and Stevens wrung her hands. 

Cecil rose up hastily : he felt the floor whirl 
under his feet — he staggered forward and 
went out into the street, scarce knowing where 
he was. Oh ! it must be a delusion that the 
gentle, loving Lucy, that one being on earth 
whose goodness was undimmed by the 
world; who, only for a few hours ago had 
planned with him how they should endeavour 
to rescue her husband from the power of the 
priests, and induce him to return to England — 
could it be that she was gone for ever from 
sight ? Cecil's heart was full of sorrow — he 
groaned aloud. " Oh Heavens ! she must 



186 LUCY AYLMER. 

not die — that bright, fair angel thing !" He 
hurried on. The physician was at home; he 
knew Cecil well, and was welcoming him 
gladly, w^hen Cecil explained the purport of 
his visit. 

Dr. Bates rose hastily. " Ah ! poor thing," 
he said, more to himself than for Cecil's 
hearing, "if this continues, I am afraid she 
cannot last long !" ^* 

Cecil trembled. " She is very dear at home," 
he said " her father's heart would be broken — 
and her husband's — poor Robert ! he lived a 
happy hfe, till Mostyn and my sister led him 
away !" 

When they arrived at Aylmer's rooms, 
Cecil heard vdth a feeling of intense relief, 
that Lucy had recovered from the fainting 
fit. 

"Ah!" said Dr. Bates, "she mav revive 
now, but I cannot answer for her recovering 
another time !" 

There was utter stillness in those rooms the 
rest of that day : the doctor came in and out 
almost every hour. He told Robert that unless 
he wished to kill Lucy, he must exercise com- 
mand over himself, and act like a rational 



LUCY AYLMER. 187 

being; and he enjoined Stevens to be calm 
and keep her station, and to let her love for 
her mistress predominate over every other 
feeling. 

"Will she recover?" Cecil asked, as he 
carried little Harry away with him to his 
hotel. 

" I cannot tell, God only knows," was the 
shift rt reply. 

The clock was ticking out the day — the 
lamp in Lucy's room gave just sufficient light 
for Robert to see to read — and what was he 
reading ? A page from that book, which of all 
others is the fear and dread of every true 
follower of the faith to which he now belonged. 
In this book he came upon the very words 
which had startled Lady Anne -. " Thou shalt 
worship the Lord thy God, and Him only 
shalt thou serve." They touched Robert's 
conscience — he finished the chapter, but still 
they haunted him — he was silent a moment, 
when Lucy's voice asked in feeble accents : 

" Are you tired, Robert ?" 

" Dearest, no ! I thought you were 
asleep." 

" No, dear ! I only closed my eyes because 



188 LUCY AYLMER. 

I seem to see angels floating before me when 
I do so. Read again, dearest." 

He read ; but his voice faltered painfully. 
Some one came softly in, and taking the Bible 
from him, sat down and repeated, in a deep- 
toned solemn voice, the parable of the " Pro- 
digal Son." Robert scarcely knew it was Dr. 
Bates — he fancied it was almost a dream, and 
he sat with his head bent down on his out- 
stretched hands, the curtain hiding him from 
Lucy's view. The clocks chimed out the last 
hour of the Sabbath. Robert started — the 
Bible and his suffering wife had dealt a severe 
blow at the foundation of the faith of this 
weak son of the church. 

At the same hour, the Padre Anastasio sat 
in a gloomy room alone. 

" Ha !" he said to himself, " she will soon 
die, that heretic woman ! and then her 
husband will be freed — he will be ours body 
and soul. Ha ! I will pray for the speedy 
death of this heretic woman !" 



LUCY ATLMER. 189 



CHAPTER IX. 

Yes ! the unseen land 
Of glorious visions hath sent forth a voice, 
To call me hence. Oh ! be thou not deceived ! 

MRS. HEMANS. 

'' My darling Maude, 

" I am afraid you must have been 
anxious at not receiving my weekly letter at 
the usual time ; but the reason is that I have 
been rather unwell. I had a sudden fainting 
fit, succeeded by slighter ones, which made 
me feel weak and good-for-nothing for several 
days. I am quite bonnie again, however, 
and as happy as — but T can find no compari- 
son to describe my happiness. You will 



190 LTJCY AYLMER. 

want to know what has caused it. Such a 
reason ! Oh, Maude, we are coming liome to 
dear Forsted ! I can scarcely write this 
without stopping to clap my hands for joy — 
it is dear Roloert's own proposal, without any 
asking on my part. Is it not good of him? 
and I am sure it will be good for him, as I 
have not a doubt he will recover his health and 
spirits, when once we are settled at home 
again. You will find him sadly altered ! 
Dear fellow ! he reads the Bible to me every 
day ! I have great hopes for liim, as Popery 
must fall before the influence of the Bible. I 
wish every single creature in Bome possessed 
one ; but, alas ! one dares not distribute them. 
Mr. Erresford travels home with us. We 
start on Monday, the day after to-morrow, 
and expect to be about ten days on our 
journey. We have no wish to loiter en route. 
But I will write to you again from one of our 
first stages ; we shall have no trouble, as Mr. 
Erresford is making every arrangement for us 
so nicely. I do not think he forgets one 
comfort for me. Stevens has taken to fits of 
crying for joy at going home. It is to be 



LUCY AYLMER. 191 

hoped, her friend the bailiff at Preston Hall, 
has remained faithful to her. She wears that 
dreadful daguerreotype likeness of him on 
Sunday in the midst of a profusion of pink 
ribbons. I believe her John once told her 
that colour was most becoming to her com- 
plexion. 

" Father Anastasio does not at all like our 
move homewards. I really do not think we could 
get away if it were not for Cecil Erresford. 
He manages everything wonderfully, even the 
not to be managed Father ! Little Harry 
has given him the name of " the nice man :" 
he spoils my boy sadly. There is scarcely a 
day he does not come to take the child out ; 
and when he returns home, he is always laden 
with more toys than I shall know where to 
pack. 

" Sad to say, Lady Anne is meditating 
entering a convent next spring. Her brother 
says little, but I know he feels deeply. I 
believe he finds it useless arguing with 
her. 

" What a Christmas we shall have ! I 
know no other word to express it — but Harry's 



192 LUCY AYLMER. 

new and pet one, whicli Cecil Erresford has 
taught him, " Jolly." 

" Really Maude, my own old queen, I 
ought to be twice as thankful as I am. This 
day last week, home seemed so far off I began 
to doubt if I should ever see it again. To- 
day I can praise loudly, for out of what 
seemed impenetrable darkness light has come. 
So let us give glory where glory is due — for 
from heaven and heaven alone cometh every 
good thing ! 

" I must conclude this, or my husband, 
for the first time in his married life will be 
kept waiting for his dinner. Untold loves to 
papa and you — Harry's kisses, Robert's love. 
Another fortnight and I shall throw my arms 
around my darling father's neck, and kiss you 
once more in the beloved home, that Avill see 
again its and your 

" Ever loving 

"Lucy." 



"P.S. You must not be anxious if you see 
me looking rather paler and thinner than when 



LUCY AYLMER. 193 

we left, one puff of air from the dear Forsted 
hills will blow me quite vigorous again ! 

" The mountain breezes from my native home, 
My father's voice, my sister's loving kiss, 
Ah ! these delights and joys, and these alone, 
Will give me back my childhood's days of bliss. 

" In that calm, happy spot, my life I'd pass. 
Apart from noise and bustle, diu and strife, 
And when old age and death shall come at last, 
I'll sleep in peace and wake in glorious life. 

•* I'll wake in Heaven, yes, fair sister, there, 

Where angels beauteous walk in streets of gold. 
Where martyrs, prophets, elders, praising share, 
Joys, blessings, pleasures, glories, here untold." 

Such was the letter Lucy Aylmer des- 
patched to Forsted the Saturday after her 
sudden illness, from which she had recovered 
with surprising rapidity. Her mind and 
thoughts were full of home ; every past 
suffering, every hour of neglect, all were 
forgotten in the prospect of her return to 
the Manor. Robert was to become once 
more a Protestant, and regain his living; 
she was to spend a happy and useful life, 
and her Harry grow up a good 

VOL HI. K 



194 LUCY AYLMER. 

and noble boy, in happy England ! Such were 
her hopes. Poor Robert was in a state of 
terror ; he dared not leave the house alone, 
for fear of encountering Padre Anastasio, 
whose anger he dreaded from his innermost 
heart ; and now he had resolved on leaving, 
he counted the days and almost the hours 
to his departure. Prom neglecting his wife, 
he had gone to the opposite extreme of 
making an idol of her. He watched her ever}^ 
look, and anticipated her slightest wish. 
Robert had never prized his Lucy in the 
palmiest days of their love, more than he did 
then. The Padre had been refused admit- 
tance several times on account of the agitation 
he had caused Lucy, which had made the 
doctor pronounce his presence highly injuri- 
ous to her. Of course the Padre was very much 
incensed, and sought an opportunity of meeting 
Robert, but this, Cecil, who used every pre- 
caution to prevent the priest regaining his 
influence over him, entirely frustrated. Never- 
theless the Padre yet hoped to get Robert 
once more within his power — he knew his 
weak temperament and did not despair ; but 
now he was disappointed. 



LUCY AYLMER. 195 

" I have written to Maude, Robert dear," 
Lucy said as she folded her letter, " and I 
have told her all about our coming home. Will 
not papa be glad ?" 

"To see you, Lucy; but what will he say 
to me, his truant son-in-law, for all my mis- 
deeds ?" 

" Hush, Robert ! do not become dismal. 
Papa will be delighted to receive you. He may 
laugh at us a little at first for our Roman 
campaign ; but every one comes in for a share 
of papa's fun. I like it !" 

"But will he not upbraid me for your 
altered looks, Lucy, and justly too ?" 

" No, he will not, Robert, he will thank 
you for bringing me to him. Just fancy 
dear papa welcoming us home with his bright 
look, and dear queen Maude ready to dart at 
us and smother us all in her warm em- 
brace !" 

"Maude is a good, kind girl," Robert 
said, " and your father is sincere in his friend- 
ship. But, Lucy, I have abused it sadly I 
know ; and I feel it ! yes, Lucy, in spite of 
Church and priests, I feel I have gone all 
wrong the last year. Mostyn had no home 

K 2 



196 LUCY AYLMER. 

ties, I had ; and what Mostyn could do it was 
not for me to follow." 

" Well, never mind, dear, that is all past 
now, we must look forward, not back ;" she 
put her head over his shoulder, and surprised 
and silenced him with a kiss on his anxious, 
thoughtful brow. 

After dinner, Robert entered readily into 
the packing and arranging books — he would 
not allow Lucy to assist him in any way, but 
made her sit on a sofa near him, and talk : of 
course home was the theme. In the midst of 
this conversation Cecil came in. 

" What, you packing, Aylmer !" he ex- 
claimed. " AVhat a way to do it ! Mrs. 
Aylmer, why do you not scold him ? He is 
putting in the smallest books first. Oh, Bob ! 
such a hand as you always were at domestic 
occupations ! Now, here am I, a poor, miser- 
able bachelor ; and yet I understand all these 
concerns, better than you, a veteran in mar- 
ried life !" 

Robert and Lucy laughed. 

" Now, Aylmer, get out of the way !" 
added Cecil ; and kneeling himself on the 
floor, he turned the contents of the box out, 



LUCY ATLMEU. 197 

and commenced refilling it in a most precise 
neat manner. At this moment a door opened, 
and in bounded Harry, with a httle whip in his 
hand, and cKmbing oii Cecil's back, he called 
out: 

" Dear man — gee, wo — jolly horse !" 

" Oh, you young rogue !" exclaimed Cecil, 
" where did you spring from ?" 

"You have made him the wildest boy 
imaginable," said Lucy. "Poor Stevens de- 
clares ' Mr, Erresford has raised his spirits to 
an eminence,- from which he overmasters 
her !' " 

Cecil laughed. 

" I never saw such an oddity as that 
Stevens ; her airs and graces are quite enter- 
taining ! — Bob, give me that pile of books off 
the table — oh, you rogue of a fellow — ^you will 
pull all the hair out of my head !" and with 
a sudden turn, Cecil rolled Harry over into 
the book box. There were shrieks of laughter, 
then Lucy lifted him out, his curls all tangled 
together. She could not quiet his excited 
spirits, nor get him to sit quietly in her lap, 
until Cecil pulled from his pocket some extra- 
ordinary French toy representing two bears. 



198 LUCY AYLMER. 

who danced a polka by means of a string, 
which dchghted the child so intensely, that the 
sound of his voice Avas not heard for some 
minutes Lucy wanted very much to have a 
hand in Cecil's task of packing ; but he would 
not hear of it, and made her sit " in state," as 
he called it, without her work, which was a 
prh^ation to her . industrious little fingers. 
When the packing was at length successfully 
finished, Cecil proposed they should take a 
stroll; but it was becoming dusk, and 
Robert's dread of encountering the Padre was 
an obstacle to any pleasure they might derive 
from the walk; so instead of their ramble, 
Cecil spent the evening with them, and made 
them merry by his animated conversation, and 
Robert declared he " felt quite young again." 
At this speech, Lucy was greatly enter- 
tained. Good little wife ! she did her part in 
the evening's amusement, by singing with- 
out accompaniment sundry old songs so 
pathetically, that Robert could not restrain 
l\is tears, and Cecil had recourse to various 
little manoeuvres to conceal his emotion. The 
last song was " The Land of the Leal ;" at its 
conclusion, Cecil rose, and sighed. 



LUCY AYLMER. 199 

" What is the matter ?" Lucy asked. 

" You are a very naughty little woman to 
sing such melancholy songs," he replied. 
" Poor John ! one pities him from the heart. 
But I must run away, now. I know you are 
early folks." 

" Will you come to-morrow morning, and 
take Lucy to church ?" Robert asked. ^ 

" To be sure I will." Then turning rather 
slyly towards Robert, he said, " If the wife 
goes, will not the husband come too?" 

Robert coloured deeply. 

" Not here," he said. " Wait till we are 
in England again. I may be persuaded to 
many things when I am there." 

" Oh 1 come to-morrow, Robert," Lucy 
said pleadingly, as she laid her hand on his 
arm. 

" Lucy dear, you forget T am a Catholic," 
he repHed, as he gently stroked her hand. 

" Yes I do. I forget everything but the 
delight it would be to have you once more 
with me in church." She looked so sweetly 
in his face, that Cecil thought Robert must 
acquiesce. 

" Catholic though I am, I will promise you 



200 LUCY AYLMER. 

to go to church the next Sunday, if you will 
only excuse me this. I could not, Lucy,, 
indeed, enter the church here." 

" Oh ! Aylmer, go !" Cecil said. " The 
prayers will not hurt you, or the sermon ; 
and where Mrs. Aylmer sits, you would never 
be noticed. It is such a quiet corner." 

" To-morrow week must do," Robert 
repHed, looking very uncomfortable. 

Lucy did not ask again, but said in her 
sweet, gentle tones : 

" I shall count the days till next Sunday." 

" Oh ! Bob, believe me, the best time for 
everything is now," urged Cecil. 

" Never mind," said Lucy, '' We must not 
teaze poor Robert." 

" Oh ! it does him good to be teazed some- 
times," replied Cecil, archly. 

*' But, Mr. Erresford, Robert might as well 
ask us to attend his service with him." 

" I should not mind it," replied Cecil. 
"Should you?" 

" No, it could not do me any harm," said 
Lucy. 

" Done then !" exclaimed Cecil. " Bob, 
we will come to terms. You shall accompany 



LUCY AYLMER. 201 

US in the morning, and we will go with you 
in the afternoon. That is quite fair." 

" You are as much a school-boy as you were 
sixteen years ago, Erresford," replied Robert. 

" No evasions, Bob — you will agree, will 
you not ? Nothing is easier." 

" For me nothing could be more difficult," 
Robert answered. '' Erresford, say no more ; 
it is impossible. In England, you will not ask 
in vain. I will please you then, even against 
my conscience. But here, in the face of the 
Church, the thing cannot be." 

A slight shade of disappointment rested 
for a moment on Lucy's fair face, but only for 
a moment, the next, it was dissipated by a 
smile ; and she said : 

" Never mind, Robert dear ! we were 
rather hard upon you." 

"Then to-morrow at a quarter to eleven." 

"I know you are punctuality itself," said 
Cecil. " Adieu, ladye fayre — adieu, sister 
Lucy." 

" Adieu, brother Cecil. Vous etes toujour s 
gai," she smilingly replied. 

" I am wearing off the effects of the ' Land 

K 3 



202 LUCY AYLMER. 

o' the Leal/ I know I shall dream to-night I 
am ' John/ " 

" What an idea !" said Robert. 

" Upon my word, I must go. I have 
kept sister Lucy standing at least ten minutes/' 
He shook hands with Lucy, turned back, and 
nodded to her. And then Robert accom- 
panied him down-stairs. 

Cecil did not dream of " the Land o' the 
Leal ;" but Robert did ; and the dream made 
a great impression upon him. As Lucy was 
making breakfast on the Sunday morning, after 
some silence Robert said : 

"It is a beautifully bright morning, 
Lucy." 

*' It is, indeed," she replied, looking from 
the window. "It is more like an August 
morning than the last Sunday in November. 
Just observe the sky !" 

" Yes, very clear and bright. Lucy ! I shall 
go to church with you/' This was said rather 
suddenly. 

" Oh ! dear Robert, thank you !" Lucy ex- 
claimed, while a brilliant colour lighted up 
her whole countenance, then vanished, leaving 
it paler than before. 



LUCY AYLMER, 203 

"Yes, I shall like it," he said. Then 
presently, he added : "I dreamt about you 
and your last song, Lucy — such a strange 
dream !" 

" Did you ?" she replied smiling. " It was 
very natural after all Cecil Erresford said 
about it." 

" Do you think so ?" Robert asked. He 
did not tell Lucy he dreamt she had died in 
the midst of singing that song ! This dream 
so haunted him, that he could not bear to 
leave her, and that was the cause of his 
sudden determination to accompany her to 
church. 

" I can fancy how joyful papa and Maude 
will be when they receive my letter," Lucy 
said. " The Forsted bells will be sure to rhig 
when we arrive at home." 

Robert smiled, but the smile disappeared in 
a sigh. 

" I think papa will find Harry very much 
improved, do you not, Robert ?" Lucy asked. 

"Yes, he is a handsome little fellow, 
wonderfully like your family." 

" Oh 1 he is only like papa and Maude. 



204 LUCY AYLMER. 

Beautiful Maude, I wonder if she will ever 
marry r^ 

" Lucy, can you ever doubt it? Perhaps, 
she has set her face against matrimony, seeing 
the wretched husband I have made," 

" Silly Robert 1 I am sure when Maude 
spent any time at the Parsonage, she must 
have longed for just such a home and husband 
as mine 1" Lucy rose from the table and 
patted his shoulder lovingly, then looking at 
her watch she said : " We are late this 
morning." 

" No, I do not think so, Lucy," and Robert 
wheeling back his chair sat thoughtfully and 
silent. 

Lucy took up her Bible, and read till a bell 
chimed half-past ten. 

Precisely at the time appointed, Cecil made 
his appearance. Lucy had resumed her seat 
and her Bible, and was reading alone — she 
looked very sweet and pretty, dressed with' 
more than usual care in a dress and cloak 
of dark blue, with handsome chinchilla furs, 
a gift of the Countess. Her bonnet was the 
only shabby part of her toilette — economy for 



LUCY ATLMER. 205 

Robert had prevented her purchasing a new 
one, but she had tied a white veil over it, 
and the folds of lace hanging around her 
face, gave a pretty shade, and concealed any 
imperfections in her bonnet. When Cecil 
entered, she greeted him with a joyous 
smile. 

"He is coming !" were her first words. 

" Who, Harry?" asked Cecil. 

" No, no, Robert ! Oh, dear, how happy 1 
am !" She said these last words with a sort of 
childlike sigh of overflowering joy. 

" Ah ! poor old Robert ! he will come 
round yet, and make as good a Protestant as 
any of us !" Cecil said with a bright look, 
which showed how he entered into her 
pleasure. 

" You have always been so kind to Robert, 
and never despaired about him," said Lucy. 

" Poor fellow ! no, why should I ? Besides 
a little consideration and interest do more 
for a man than shunning and upbraiding 
him." 

" I wish every one would think so," Lucy 
began ; but she ceased, for Robert came in. 
Lucy felt proud of him — it seemed to her hke 



206 LUCY AYLMER. 

Forsted not Rome, and she could have fancied 
their steps were wending to old St. Walburga, 
not to the English Consulate Church, as after 
bidding good-bye to little Harry, she took 
Robert's arm, and walked along the dirty 
looking streets. Robert might have passed 
for an English clergym-an again in his black 
dress. Ah ! how Lucy wished he had been 
going to officiate ! 

" But, hush, impatient Lucy !" she said to 
herself. " That will, all come again in God's 
good time !" Cecil talked little en route — he 
liked to listen to his companions. Lucy tried 
to fill Robert's mind with pleasant thoughts. 
The walk to church was not long ; and when 
there, Lucy gave up her quiet corner to 
Robert, that he might feel secluded and un- 
noticed ; and yet she almost longed he should 
be seen, that people might know he was not 
shunning the worship of his fathers. The kind 
physician, who had attended Lucy, saw him, 
and felt very glad ; but by most he was un- 
observed. Gently Lucy placed an open 
prayer-book before Robert, and whispered 
low: 

" Robert, I am so happy !" Silently he 



LUCY AYLMER. 207 

pressed her hand — then the sendee began. 
Slowly and feelingly it was read — it thrilled 
through Robert's heart. Had it ever sounded 
to him as it did that day ? Did not every one 
of those prayers, every word of the service he 
had so often read reverently but heartlessly, 
now rise up in judgment against him for his 
apostacy ? Did not every word of it con- 
tradict Popery, and the forms and ceremonies 
to which he had bowed down ? Ah ! it 
seemed so to him ! His head was bent low ; 
he trembled — the glare and glitter of Popery, 
with its arts and wiles, passed from before 
his eyes, and left him, as it were, on the sands 
— the ocean of life, with its ceaseless roar, 
rushed upon him, and he knew not how to 
flee ! At length, the hymn before the sermon 
came — it w^as Advent Sunday, Lucy's voice 
rose with joy in the beautiful Advent hymn. 
Cecil listened, and Robert's voice, so silent 
during the responses, softly mingled with his 
Lucy's. Then Cecil sang too and rejoiced ! 
It was over, and Robert barkened to the words 
of the text : it w^as taken from the first chap- 
ter of the Revelations, and part of the seventh 



208 LUCY AYLMER. 

verse, " Behold he cometh with clouds ; 
and every eye shall see him." 

" It is a glad and joyful day/' these were 
the opening words of the sermon. "Yes/* 
thought Lucy, "yes, 'tis true !" She rested 
her hand in Robert's, and left it there. 

Then the clergyman spoke of Christ's 
Advent, its glories, of those who will share 
the glories, and of those who will feel it ter- 
rible ; then of the heavenly train who will 
attend the Saviour at His second cominor — 
saints, angels, prophets, martyrs. On the 
last word, he paused, and dwelt on those who 
shall come out of tribulation — not those who 
had suffered great tribulations only, but those 
who endure silently lesser tribulations, un- 
known to the world. Suddenly he said : 

" There may be some here who have suf- 
fered these latter tribulations patiently and 
enduringly. This may be your day of relief; 
it may be that your tribulation is removed, 
and brighter, happier days on earth are in 
store, which dawn upon you now ; or it may 
be, your Father will send an angel to bring 
you up to Him — your trials unaltered, un- 



LUCY AYLMER. 209 

soothed, left behind ; and at Heaven's gate, 
for your cross you "\vill receive a crown — for 
days of suffering you will inherit a life of 
glory !" 

The whole sermon Lucy heard with intense 
interest, and it concluded wdth six lines from 
her favourite poet, George Herbert : 

" Awake ! sad heart, whom sorrow ever drowns ; 

Take up thine ejes v.hich feed on earth ; 
Unfold thy forehead, gathered into frowns ; 

The Savioor comes, and with him mirth. 

Awake ! awake ! 
And with a thankful heart thy comfort take." 

The Service w as ended. Robert had heard 
every word of it. He felt strangely altered 
from what he had been ! They rose and left 
the church immediately to avoid meeting the 
congregation. The sun shone brightly ; the 
air was balmy, almost hot. Lucy said : 

" I wonder if it is like this at home, or 
if the valley is filled with a November 
fog?" 

" We shall soon see for ourselves how home 
looks," Cecil replied. Then after a pause 



210 LUCr AYLMER. 

he added, " That was a splendid sermon, 
Ayhner." 

"Yes," was the monosyllabic answer. 

" That man knows what he is about," said 
Cecil, addressing Robert again. 

" Yes ! I wish I had heard him before," was 
the reply. 

Cecil looked at Lucy. Her face was 
very pale. 

" You are tired, Mrs. Aylmer ?" 

" Not very. I have dressed rather too 
heavily for the day." 

" Let me carry those furs for you," said 
Cecil, taking her muff and boa into his 
possession ; while Robert looked anxious, and 
asked : 

" Dear, you are not ill ?" 

" No, Robert, dearest ! nor thinking of 
such a thing. You must remember it is my 
first day of going out, and I noticed several 
people besides myself seemed to feel the air 
oppressive." 

" You look so pale !" Robert said. 

" Would you like a carriage ?" Cecil asked, 
becoming rather anxious in his turn. 



LUCY AYLMER. 211 

" Thank you — indeed no ; you must not 
make such a fuss about me !" Lucy said, 
smihng. " You must often expect to see me 
pale when I am tired. Besides, 1 never am 
very rosy." 

" You are getting all right now. Upon 
my word, you frightened me !" Cecil said. 
"Robert was quite pale himself, from sym- 
pathy." 

They walked quietly on, speaking a little 
of their intended journey, much of the ser- 
mon, Robert rather listening than joining in 
the conversation. When they reached the 
entrance of the Aylmer's dwelling, Lucy 
said : 

" You must come in, Mr. Erresford, and 
dine with us." 

" I would gladly if I could, but I stumbled 
on an old bachelor acquaintance yesterday, 
who asked me to meet him to-day to dine 
together. I intend trying to get him to 
church this afternoon. I only hope we may 
hear as good a sermon as we did this morn- 
ing. My acquaintance is not a Roman Catholic, 
Aylmer, but an Unitarian. I like to do 



212 LUCY AYLMER. 

good to my friends if I can on Sunday, and 
this day is so warmly bright, that I feel as if 
my heart could call every man, woman, and 
child in this city brother and sister, and wish 
I could benefit every one of them !" 

" I would gladly help you," Lucy 
said. 

''Ah, well ! we must do good Avhere we 
can, and for the rest, the same Providence 
watches over, and the same heaven is ready 
to receive all who look up to it !" he looked 
up too, the sky was so cloudless — " good-bye, 
Mrs. Aylmer !" 

" I Avish Erresford, you and my wife would 
call each other by your baptismal names, it 
will strengthen our friendship." 

"Readily!" exclaimed Cecil, "but I shall 
not say good-bye, only au revoir, Lucy, 
till five o'clock to-morrow morning, the happy 
twenty-ninth ! We have made one step 
homewards by that packing yesterday ; to- 
morrow we march in good earnest. Au revoir, 
Aylmer, au revoir, Lucy !" 

" Au revoir I Cecil. I feel exactly as if I 
should be really home to-morrow, only in 



LUCY AYLMER. 213 

anticipation of the starting — au revoir /" were 
Lucy's last words, as they disappeared 
through the dark archway. 

Cecil saw their shadows depart, then ex- 
claimed : " Thank God they are re-united 1" 
he went on to finish the day as he had com- 
menced it, in friendship and good works. 

Lucy paused one moment to speak a few 
kind, simple words to old Pietro the land- 
lord, who generally opened his door to see 
her pass, and whose tears flowed at the near 
prospect of beholding her no more. When 
Lucy reached their etage, she was really tired, 
but she did not complain — Robert only saw 
her joy. Harry dined with them ; Stevens 
waited on them, and there was not one cloud 
in that dismantled, dismal-looking room, from 
which every ornament but Lucy's presence 
was taken. They were to start so early on 
the morrow, that every possible package had 
been got ready on the preceding day. Stevens, 
as usual, went to church in the afternoon, 
and obtained permission from Lucy to take 
Harry with her, and to pay a farewell visit 
after service to a friend who had arrived in 



214 LUCY AYLMER. 

Rome a few weeks previously, as maid to an 
English fiimily come to winter there. 

After Stevens w^as gone, Lucy rested against 
the window : it was open, and a breeze came 
in balmy and warm. She leant her head on 
her hand, and looked up at the sky and 
sunshine. Robert had been watching her 
with an anxious expression on his counte- 
nance. He came up, and putting his arm 
round Lucy's waist, said : 

"Do you feel ill, Lucy? Your lips are 
pale, and you tremble." 

" I feel rather faint," was the reply. 

Robert's countenance expressed fear and 
trouble. "Lie down, my Lucy," he said, 
" the walk to church has been too much for 
you ;" he guided her to the sofa, and gently 
placed her there, then fetching pillows from 
an adjoining room, piled them beneath her 
head. 

" Thank you, dear, that is better," she said 
faintly. 

Robert brought her salts-bottle and some 
cold water, but they did not seem to revive 
her very much. Her husband's forehead wore 



LUCY AYLMER. 215 

marks of sorrow, his lips quivered, " Is this 
like you felt before ?" he asked. 

" No, not so bad," she replied faintly. 

" I shall send Pietro for Dr. Bates," Robert 
said nervously ; " my darling, I shall only 
leave you one moment." 

He hastily descended the stairs and des- 
patched the grieved old landlord for the 
physician with the message that the Signora 
was ill again. 

Robert hurried back to Lucy, and kneeling 
by her side, supported her head on his arm. 
He was much more calm than he had been 
before, and acted quietly and without agitat- 
ing her. There were some restorative medi- 
cines in Lucy's room that she had used 
before ; Robert tried these, but they failed to 
rouse her from what seemed stupor. 

"Lucy, darling, what do you feel?" he 
asked. 

" It feels like death," she replied, in a 
scarcely audible voice, " but I am not afraid." 

Robert's face was almost convulsed mth 
agony ; and large drops stood on his brow, as 
he bent over Lucy and bathed her forehead 
and lips with water. She shivered and heaved 



21 G LUCY AYLMER. 

a deep sigh. " Are you cold, dearest ?" he 
asked. She made no reply — he brought a 
coverlid aud laid it over her, and placed a 
cloak across her feet, they were icy cold. As 
if with a great effort she said, " Thank you 
dear, it is very sudden — ^liold my hand" — he 
took her hand in his, that precious little 
hand ! which had rested so often confidingly 
in his, and on whose finger such a short time 
back, it seemed to him now as yesterday, he 
had placed the ring that glittered there, the 
seal of her much abused love ! She lay quite 
still, her eyes closed, her soft shining braids 
parted over her calm face — it was childlike, 
innocent, fair as on their wedding-morn — 
sorrow had been there, but it had left no trace 
behind — sorrow had been there ? Ah yes ! as 
her husband watched by her, that knowledge 
pierced his wounded heart — sorrow had been 
there I oh, who had caused it ? His own con- 
science answered, " Thou art the man !" The 
lines on his forehead deepened ; he pressed his 
hands on it to force back the agony, but it 
would not go ; it tarried there to torture him ! 
It brought before his mind the days when he 
had guided her infant steps along the lawn, 



LUCY AYLMER, 217 

and wove daisies into garlands to hang around 
her neck. It showed as though it were a 
thing of yesterday, the scenes of their gambols 
and merry games — the old fireside chair, 
where Lucy had sat on his knee and listened 
to tales of his school life — it took him on to 
his college days, sweetened by vacation trips 
to the Manor, where no voice gave gentler 
welcom.e, or more loving words than his little 
Lucy. It reminded him of his ordination 
vows — all broken and forgotten. It dwelt on 
his matured love, his winning the fair Lucy — 
the joy, the delight, the cloudless morn when 
vow was given for vow — her's alone remaining 
unbroken. It showed him happy pastoral life, 
aU glowing with her love ; it forced upon him 
his apostacy, his desertion ; and to complete 
all, to heighten his agony, it pictured lier 
grief, her devotion, the little grave beneath the 
roses — their reunion, the many opportunities 
given him for repentance — the daily sorrow 
of her life — the wreck of her health. It showed 
him death, a grave in a foreign land, a white 
grave stone, on which that much abused 
name, " Lucy," was traced in deep dark 

VOL. III. L 



218 LUCY AYLMER. 

letters. It left him there holding still that 
little hand, looking still on that loving brow, 
so pale, so cloudless, he scarcely knew if the 
angel of death were there, or if hfe and hope 
yet lingered. The sun was setting, it hghted 
up her couch with its rays of crimson and 
gold, o'ershadowing her face with its glory. 
Her eyes slowly opened, she said, "It is 
beautiful going home." 

Her husband bent his head to catch her 
words, " Darling !" she continued, in a caress- 
ing voice, " darling, I must leave you. Let me 
rest by our baby's grave — take care of Harry, 
and meet me again !" 

" Sweetest !" he said, in a low, hoarse voice, 
" you are too young to die." 

She did not heed him. " Kiss them all, 
and tell them gently," she murmured in a 
dreamy tone — she was silent some moments, 
then opening her eyes and resting them on 
him with a smile, she said in a tone of 
unspeakable love " Dear, darling !" 

As Robert stooped to kiss her, he whispered, 
'' Forgive me — my angel !" 

" He will," she replied, "he forgives all !" 



LUCY ATLMER. 219 

she closed her eyes again with the prayer, 
" guard and love my darHng husband !" 

The dusk of evening gathered. The moments 
seemed to Robert to fly fast ; he had forgotten 
the Doctor; no thought was present to him 
but his Lucy. Again he parted the hair from 
her brow, and kissed her hps. She moved ; 
withdrew her hand from his and placed it 
beneath her head. "It is very peaceful, 
sweet ; read me to sleep." A moment after, 
she murmured " The Lord is my Shepherd !" 
Robert thought she wished the Psalm repeated, 
and bending over her, he began it in a low 
voice. She smiled sweetly, " I shall take that 
with me, Robert darling, the ' prayer for the 
dying !' " 

Her prayer book lay on a table near ; and 
kneeling by her couch, he, who a few short 
months ago, had deserted her to enter the 
Romish priesthood, now read once again 
prayers from the church he had forsaken, over 
the form of his meek and gentle wife ! It 
was dark, he had ceased to read, and sat still 
and almost breathless by her side. The door 
opened noiselessly ; he heard it not, his every 
nerve was strained in thought for his Lucy, 

L -2 



220 LUCY AYLMER. 

and when the doctor groped his way through 
the room faintly Hghted by the moonbeams, 
and stood by her couch, with the whispered 
words " a pressing case detained me," 
Robert's scarcely audible voice replied — 
" Hush, she sleeps !" 



LUCY AYLMER. 221 



CHAPTER X. 

All, pity! The lily is withered, the purple of the violet 
turned into paleness. 

JEREMY TAYLOR. 

Snow flakes gathered around the Manor. 
The old hall fire was lighted again ; there were 
bright laurels around the pictures, and the 
stags' heads were wreathed with holly. It 
was the month of December, when Maude 
Neville entered a low, thatched cottage in the 
village. An old man rose from his seat in the 
chimney-corner, and leaning on his stick, said 
" A good day to ye, Miss Maude." 

" Sit down, Robbins, or I will not stay," 
she replied ; '* how is your rheumatism ?" 

" Oh, Miss Maude, it be gone ! I've walked 
as far as Farmer Perkins' this ere morning, to 



222 LUCY AYLMER. 

beg a bit of holly to smarten my old place 
against Miss Lucy and the Parson comes. 
Ye see, Miss Maude, the saucepans are quite 
festival-like." 

" Yes ! you have made them look very 
smart. Lucy will be sure to pay you a visit 
soon after she arrives at home." 

" Miss Maude, 1 be so grieved for her poor 
old dog." 

" Yes," said Maude, with a momentary 
shade on her brow, " I wish poor old Tawney 
had live:l to welcome her home. Papa and I 
buried him under the great cedar by Lucy's 
garden, and have piled a pointed heap of flints 
to mark his grave." 

The old man brushed his rough hand over 
his eyes. " My poor old 'oman used to set 
such store by the dog, when Miss Lucy 
brought him down to our little place ; but of 
all them there. Miss Lucy be the only one 
left. Well, the old uns go first ! my old 'onian 
would ha' been seventy-five year come next 
Branstone fair, if she'd been spared a little 
longer ! and it's twelve year ago this Christmas 
since I went to Preston Hall, and brought the 
Squire home that 'ere dog !" 



LUCY AYLMER. 223 

Maude, during the old man's speech, was 
busy pulling something from her pocket, 
which being rather larger than the pocket 
itself, was somewhat difficult to get out. At 
last, however, a rather strange-looking parcel 
made its appearance. Maude laughed to her- 
self as going up to the old man, who was 
rather deaf, she said, " Robbins, what do you 
think I have brought you in my pocket ?" 

" Lor, Miss, something nice — I'll be 
bound !" 

" Oh ! it is something very queer for a 
pocket," said Maude. 

" Lor, Miss Maude, I've knowed you and 
Miss Lucy fill your little pockets afore this 
with all manners o' things ! There was 
little clay baskets, and stones and baked 
taters — bless your hearts ! — and there was 
turnips for my old 'oman !" 

"Well, I have brought you a tongue, a 
home-cured tongue ; and Ralph is to bring 
you a piece of veal. Papa wants every one 
to be merry when Lucy retiurns — so papa is 
to send you something warm with the veal, 
to help you drink Lucy's health." 

" Bless the Squire and Miss Lucy and 



224 LUCY AYLMER. 

Miss Maude and all!" said the old man 
nearly crying. " I only wish my old hands 
was stronger, that I could help them ringers, 
and give the first peal for Miss Lucy ! Bless 
her dear heart ! I could kiss the ground on 
which 1 see her stand !" 

" That would be doing rather too much, 
Robbins," said Maude laughing. " I will let 
you know the very minute Lucy arrives. 
Ralph shall come down with the cart and 
bring you up, and then you will get a first 
sight of her — good-by ! Now do not get up, 
T know the latch." And Maude went out 
again into the snowy little village, followed 
by the blessings of the superannuated gar- 
dener. 

It was a foggy -looking morning, and the 
snow-covered gardens and pasture-lands wore 
a desolate appearance. But Maude's heart 
was glad, for soon she would hold in her 
embrace her loved sister, the companion of 
her childhood's days. She went from cottage 
to cottage proclaiming the ncAvs; and from 
every mouth w^as the glad tidings echoed 
that " our parson and Miss Lucy were 
coming home !" and in the excess of their 



LUCY AYLMER. 225 

delight did a few of the most high-spirited 
forego their dinner hour, and send forth a 
merry peal from St. Walburga's old snowy 
tower, in anticipation of their return. 

It was not till nearly three o'clock that 
Maude went home, humming as she walked 
the solitary road, " Sweet Lucy Neal." She 
shut the gate with a swing, and made a 
short cut over the snowy lawn towards the 
house. Some of her father's sporting dogs 
which were near the door, came running up 
to her, and rubbed their noses against her 
hands. 

"Well, old fellows," she said, caressing 
them, " why is it you are not out with your 
master ? Eh, old doggies ?" 

The dogs looked up inquisitively at her 
with their soft deep eyes, and followed her 
closely to the hall door, where she shut them 
all out. The fire burned low and Maude 
put a log on it from the wood box. Then 
throwing her mufip on the table, she went 
into the dining-room, where dinner was 
laid for two. 

" Is papa at home, Morris ?" Maude asked 
in some surprise ; '' I thought he was going 

L 3 



226 LUCY AYLMER. 

over to Preston Hall with the dogs. I should 
have been in before, if I had known he 
would remain at home." 

" Master is in the library, Miss. A letter 
came directly after you went, and master 
took it in there, and has not stirred since." 

Maude looked alarmed. " There is no fire 
in the library, and papa never sits there — I 
shall go and see. You can bring in the 
dinner, I am very hungry." 

Maude's thick boots sounded on the oak 
floor, as she crossed the hall, and opened the 
library door. 

She started when she saw her father 
seated in an old arm-chair before the table 
on which his arms were crossed and his 
head rested down on them. His back was 
towards Maude, he did not see her enter. 
She stood still a moment, then going up to 
his chair, she threw her arms over his shoul- 
ders, and rested her cheek on his head. 

The Squire moved back suddenly, and 
drawing her close to. him exclaimed, in a 
voice of hopeless misery : " Maude, my only 
child !" 

Maude's eyes looked down on the open 



LUCY AYLMER. 227 

letter lying on the table blistered with tears. 
A black border surrounded it. The truth 
flashed on her in a moment, and like a Avhirl- 
wind it swept her bright hopes away. 

" She is dead 1" Maude shrieked ; and her 
voice echoed through the lone old mansion, as 
she rushed from that cold, dreary room. The 
wind blew against her face. She hurried out 
through the garden door, up the shrubberied 
walk, where she and Lucy had been wont to 
stroll, arm linked in arm. Then, on a rustic seat, 
all crisp with snow, beneath the shade of the 
great cedar-tree, she threw herself down and 
covered her face with her hands, rocking to 
and fro to the dreary accompaniment of the 
sighing wind. " She is gone ! — she is gone ! 
oh ! Lucy !" were the words her hps uttered, 
mingled with an unsuppressed cry, " Oh ! 
cruel, cruel ! to take her from us !" She sat 
there a long time thus bewailing, until the 
sound of a footstep awoke her for a moment 
from her misery. She looked up hastily. 
She was too much absorbed in her own sorrow 
to feel any surprise when she saw Cecil 
Erresford close by her side. 

" Maude !" he said, in a pitying, gentle 



228 LUCY AYLMER. 

voice, " they told me you had gone away up 
the shrubberies; and I came to seek you." 

" Oh ! leave me — leave me !" she exclaimed. 
" Just as my happiness seemed so complete ! 
Oh ! it was a cruel Providence which took my 
Lucy from me." 

"Hush, Maude!" he said, softly. "She 
was wanted in Heaven. You would not 
wish her back again ?" 

" You cannot comfort me. Oh, no ! you 
can know nothing of what I feel. You never 
loved her, idohzed her as I have done !" 

" Maude," he replied, gravely, " I did love 
her truly once, with intense love," he lifted, as 
he spoke, his hat from his head. " But it is 
past now," he added. " All human love is 
needless. She rests in Heaven ; and could 
she speak to us from her bright home, she 
would teach us patience and resignation." 

" I cannot learn them," Maude passionately 
exclaimed ; "for me these words do not exist ! 
Oh ! why did Robert go to a foreign land, 
and kill her there ?" 

Again were Cecil's words : 

" Hush, Maude ! Robert's grief is far 
greater than ours. Upbraid him not. It 



LUCY AYLMER. 229 

was Heaven's good time — no act of Robert's 
sent her to her grave." 

" A grave in a foreign, hateful land !" ex- 
claimed Maude bitterly. " No one will plant 
roses there, or weep over the loved one that 
rests beneath the sod !" The echo from the 
hills sent back Maude's wild cry. 

" Maude, our sister sleeps in no lonely grave. 
Her mortal rest will be beneath the shadows 
of her native hills ! It was her dying request 
to lie beside her infant's grave." 

Then tears rolled down Maude's proud face. 
She looked up, and, in a softened tone said : 

" Tell me of her — did you see her die ?" 

*' When last I saw her, it was on the 
Sabbath morn. Her face was cloudless, and 
death seemed far away. 1 stood once again 
beside her coffin, and kissed our sister's cold 
brow. But it was not our Lucy ; she was 
far away where ' Angels sweet a careful 
watching o'er our sister keep.' " 

Maude rose and drew her veil over her 
tearful face. 

" Come," she said, " walk with me, and tell 
me all you know." 

" She had been ill — very ill !" he rephed ; 



230 LUCY AYLMER. 

" SO that for one night her Ufe was in danger. 
She would not let you know; 'twould marr 
your happiness, she said ; and- it was quickly 
passed ; but still her physician feared. He 
told us he dreaded a disease of the heart, and 
said afterwards that he expected any day she 
might be taken from us." 

"What caused it?" exclaimed Maude 
bitterly. "Who caused it? Mr. Erresford, 
you cannot deny he caused it. Her own 
husband — for whom she sacrificed every- 
thing — he broke her heart !" 

" There is no doubt," Cecil said gravely, 
" that sorrow and neglect brought on the 
disease ; and a life-time will never erase the 
terrible thought from Robert's mind. Maude, 
when you see him, your anger will vanish, and 
pity will occupy its place in your heart." 

" I will never pity him !" she exclaimed. 
" Had he no will ? Was he a madman that he 
must rush blindly on till he caused her death ? 
No ! it was voluntary. I pity my father, my- 
self, our angel ; but for Robert I have no pity." 

" Then, Maude, you do not resemble her, 
our sister, who pitied every one, even the 
very priest who led her husband away." 



LUCY AYLMER. 231 

Maude was silent. Her tears flowed fast 
beneath the dark folds of her veil. 

Cecil led her along through the deserted, 
snowy walks, across the valley which lay at 
the foot of Castle St. Agnes. 

" Unless we copy her holy life, we can 
never meet her again," Cecil said slowly. 

" Did she leave no message — no last 
word for me ?" Maude said, in a voice of 
agony. 

" I know not," he replied ; " her husband 
could not speak of her — he may to you. I 
went to him on the Monday morning. She 
was gone ! He had spoken to no one since 
the Sunday afternoon, when she fainted and 
died ; and when Dr. Bates came to her, 
Robert sat by her side, and only thought she 
slept ! Our journey was postponed two days. 
Robert passed them alone ; he saw no one 
but her child." 

Maude sobbed aloud. 

" Shall I take you to her motherless boy ?" 
Cecil asked. 

" Yes, let me have him — oh ! give him to 
me !" she cried. 

Cecil led her on, through a httle snow- 



232 LUCY AYLMER. 

track which skirted the park and a part of 
the woods. Gently he handled her grief; his 
own was deep. " Our sister — our Lucy !" 
How tenderly the words sounded from his 
lips ! They soothed Maude as he told how 
happy she had been in the thoughts of home — 
how good and patient in her sorrow, and 
how ardently she loved Robert ! and how, the 
last week of her life, Robert had repented, 
and loved her with more than his former 
affection. 

" You must love Robert for her sake," 
Cecil said. 

They were beneath the shade of the Castle, 
now ; the snow rested on its projecting mul- 
lions and cornices, and the closed shutters 
made Maude shudder. The air sighed heavily 
from the north over the whitened plains and 
drifting hilhsides. One single black crow 
winged its way along beneath the grey 
clouds. An awful stillness reigned, except 
when a hound in the kennel sent forth a 
deep-toned howl. Evening's winter shades 
fell everywhere, over tree and shrub, over 
wall and turret — shades within and shades 
without. 



LUCY AYLMER. 233 

By an impulse, Maude laid her hand on 
Cecil's arm. 

" Is she here ?" she asked, in low 
tones. 

" Yes, Maude !" he replied. 

His hand was on the door ; he opened it, 
and stood once more in the old ancestral hall. 
The knights in armour looked grim and stiff 
against the walls. Cecil led her away. No 
parade of servants disturbed and witnessed 
her grief — they were alone. He took her 
down a silent gallery. She heard a child's 
blithe voice in this dreary house of death ; and 
on her listening ear, from St Walburga's 
tower, where so lately joy-peals had echoed 
and mocked the gloomy air, now were wafted 
the sounds of the muffled bell. 

It was all to Maude as " a dream remem- 
bered in a dream ;" she almost doubted if 
she were awake. Suddenly a bright, laugh- 
ing boy bounded up the passage, and threw 
his arms round Cecil's knees. It was her 
child — Lucy's own Harry ! Maude stopped, 
took him from Cecil, and clasped him in her 
arms. The child looked frightened at Maude's 
sad, tearful face, and struggled to get free 



234 LUCY AYLMER. 

from her embrace, and flew to Cecil again. 
Cecil carried him down the passage ; Maude 
followed. Then he opened a door. A. fire 
burnt there ; a figure bent over it, and read 
by its flickering light. There were long 
shadows on the floor, and the engravings 
on the walls looked dull and gloomy. Maude 
drew back a step, while little Harry subdued 
his childish mirth, and whispered : 
"Poor papa !" 

" Speak to him," Cecil said ; "he will tell 
you of her." 

Still Maude hesitated, when Cecil added : 
" She would have comforted him." 
Maude slowly advanced on the threshold. 
Cecil gently closed the door; little Harry's 
voice died away in the passage ; and Maude 
stood alone with the husband— the destroyer, 
as she thought — of her dead sister ! She did 
not speak. He moved not, or looked up. 
She saw he read by the firelight, and she 
thought the book was a Bible. She stood a 
moment irresolute whether to speak or to go 
away : her good, noble nature triumphed. 
She would supply Lucy's place — Maude 
would be his comforter ! The task was a 



LUCY AYLMER. 235 

hard one to her proud spirit, for ever the 
words were ringing in her ears, " 'Twas he 
who killed her — he broke her heart I" 

" Robert !" Maude said, her own voice 
terrified her, the walls seemed to echo back 
the word. 

He started, and bent his head down on his 
hands. 

Maude threw aside her bonnet and cloak, 
and stood on the hearth-rug before liim, her 
beautiful face wild in its sorrow. 

" Speak to me, Robert," she cried, '' I am 
come, as she would have come, to be a com- 
forter to you in this day of our bitter soitow 
— speak to me, Robert ; tell me, did she leave 
any message for me, not even one pairing 
word? my darling, my dear sister !" 

" Forgive me, Maude, forgive me, as she 
forgave me !" Robert exclaimed, as he sank 
on the floor at her feet, and knelt there. 

" Rise, Robert, rise !" she replied. " I do 
forgive you; even though she is dead, and 
I shall never see her more ! Rise, Robert, I 
command you ! Oh, I never dreamt to see 
this dreadful day !" 

He did rise slowly, then said : 



236 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Her end was peace — she slept and woke 
in Heaven ! I have been a great sinner ; but 
I hope to follow her there !" 

"Tell me, Robert," Maude exclaimed, as 
she forced him to resume his seat, and stood 
before him, " tell me, are you still a follower 
of the Romish religion ?" 

"The day she died, it died to me," he 
replied, in a hollow voice. " I have come 
back, Maude, to her church again. She and 
the Bible brought me there !" 

" Poor Robert T' Maude said, it was all the 
comfort she had to offer. She sat down on a 
low seat opposite him in the dim light, and 
listened as he spoke to her of Lucy, and told her 
treasured words — her holy deeds, her love for 
him — for all. 

The lamps shone in the long gallery when 
Robert's cold hand was placed in Maude's, 
and he lead her away to a dark, pannelled 
room : a light burnt faintly there, a figure 
leant against a high raised drapery of pure 
white. It was the Squire, who wept beside 
his Lucy's coffin ! Robert stood still, Maude 
felt him tremble; she kept his hand, and 
brought him side by side with her father. 



LUCY AYLMER. 237 

"Papa," she said, in a choked voice, 
" Lucy forgave him !" She joined their hands 
together. 

The Squire's tones were stifled ; but it 
was the Squire's own good heart which burst 
forth. 

" Bob, I forgive you ! it is no place for 
anger here. My poor Uttle flower — she is gone 
from me ; but she is better ofl" ! They called 
her an angel. I never thought how soon she 
was to be one — my poor, bright, faded 
flower !" The Squire laid his head on that 
white pall and wept. 

There was a solemn silence, only the wind 
in the corridors spoke in dreary accents of 
death. Suddenly Robert said : 

" We may not pray for her — there is no 
prayer where my Lucy dwells, but for our- 
selves — oh, shall we not pray ?" 

Maude knelt as he knelt ; the Squire stood 
with bowed head ; then the desolate husband 
from his soul prayed : 

" Oh, Lord ! make us like her, that we may 
follow her to glory !" 



238 LUCY AYLMER. 

Worsted's hills and dales were clad in one 
universal robe of white. The hedges wore 
festoons of snow, and the ivy on old St. 
Walburga's tower drooped in white festoons ; 
and over all, the sun shone just twelve days 
before Christmas. 

It was Sunday. The morning service was 
ended, and the winter's sun was beginning 
to decline, when forth from the church- 
yard gates the Vicar of Branstone came white- 
robed to meet the funeral of Worsted's fair, 
stricken flower; the slow, measured footfall 
blended with the sighing of the yew, and the 
tones of the muffled bell. 

The Squire's comrades in the chase, bore 
his young daughter to her earthly rest. Her 
own kindred all were there ; even the stern 
Lord San^'ford could not withhold the silent 
tribute of a tear. His drooping wife, his gay 
sister, all were there — a long train of village 
maidens, tiny children, and simburnt veterans. 
The same crowd who saw her wedding, stood 
among the snow-covered graves, and wept at 
her funeral ; the bridegroom, the bride- 
maidens, father, sister, Cecil — all were there— 
the bride alone was not ; for her spirit had 



LUCY AYLMER. 239 

been called to a heavenh marriage feast, and 
the gentle form all had that day delighted to 
gaze npon, was laid to rest by the side of her 
little one gone before. The church in which 
she had loved to worship, threw its shade 
over her, and her rest was very peaceful. 

The solemn service was read, and the sor- 
rowing train dispersed. The Castle, the 
Manor, the cottage — all received mourners 
into their shelter; and little groups stood 
around the new made grave, and spoke of her 
virtues and her end. Then the sun set, and 
the moon rose and shone in silvery whiteness 
over wood and glade — and its beams rested 
tenderly on Lucy Aylmer's grave. 



240 LUCY AYLMER. 



CHAPTER XI. 

Her memory long will live alone. 
In all our hearts as mournful light, 
That broods above the fallen sun, 
And dwells in heaven half the night. 

TENNYSON. 

When the dreary winter had passed, and 
harsh winds swept the snow flakes from the 
hill-side, Robert Aylmer and his child were 
far separated. The vicar of Forsted was sus- 
pended for two years ; at the expiration of this 
period, his unchanging patron promised his 
return to his former living. Till then, Cecil 
pressed on him a home at Hatchworth, his 
country seat. This offer Robert gravely but 
thankfully refused : he would no longer eat the 
bread of idleness — his resolve was taken, it 



LUCY AYLMER. 241 

was a high one — he would begin a new ex- 
istence, a working Hfe, and go forth to meet 
the future with a manly heart ! with the 
memory of the warning past ever before him, 
He kissed his motherless child, confided him to 
Maude's love ; then went to his self-appointed 
duty. On the lonely heights of Northern 
Scotland, armed with his Bible, and the 
shadow of her love still clinging to him, the 
repentant Robert performed the task of tutor 
to the spoilt and petted son and heir of the 
fretful Lady Damer. It was no Kght toil, but 
even as he had been borne with, so now he 
bore with others, and in his life he strove to 
copy hers, and practice patience and resigna- 
tion. Each w^eek he sent letters to Maude, 
and in these letters ofttimes came wild moun- 
tain flowers, or little pictures for his child. 

How Maude loved and idolized the noble 
little fellow, and how the Squire made him 
the delight of his heart, only themselves 
knew. Lucy's boy was all in all to them ! 

The poor Squire seemed to be getting into 
greater difficulties about this time. The heavy 
mortgage annually paid to his brother upon 
the estate dipped deeply into his already 

VOL. III. M 



242 LUCY AYLMER. 

reduced income. One morning when Maude 
asked him for the usual weekly sum for her 
household expenses, the Squire made no reply ; 
but shortly after he went out mounted on 
one of his favourite hunters, and returned late 
in the afternoon on foot. Maude's heart was 
heavy ; she said not a word ; but when the 
moon was shining in the heavens, she 
shpped away and entered the stables— no 
Swiftfoot neighed in his stall. The first real 
sense of poverty fell across Maude's proud 
spirit. Unobserved she entered the house 
again, and that evening she redoubled her love 
and affection towards her father. 

The next morning, the Squire put into 
Maude's hands the money she required — then 
she knew his hunter was really gone. 

After this, the Squire received several letters 
from his brother, which seemed to perplex and 
annoy him, and finally resulted in another 
thinning of his stable ; followed by the startHng 
announcement to Maude, that he must let the 
Manor ! 

It was given into an agent's hands, and 
sundry strange visitors invaded Maude's home 
retreat : curiosity seemed to bring them i no 



LUCY AYLMER. 243 

real wish to rent the place. Still Maude 
hoped on, hoped that her father might yet 
keep his Somerset home, and brighter things 
turn up. 

Castle St. Agnes was shut and tenantless 
again. Cecil had left for Hatchworth immedi- 
ately after Lucy's funeral, and Lord De 
Walden for the place in Essex, where his proud 
mother entertained numberless visitors, and 
filled her reception-rooms with the dance and 
the song. March found Cecil Erresford and 
Lord Sangford at their respective town houses, 
prosecuting their Parliamentary duties, though 
his lordship's voice and strength wTre some- 
what weakened by the effects of a severe cold, 
caught at Lucy's funeral, and which clung to 
him still. The Easter week he passed at his 
estate in Surry, endeavouring to recruit his 
strength, w^hile Elora read aloud to her Lord 
— endured his murmurs, and tried to please 
him and failed — then fell back upon mysteries 
after the manner of her married life ; and 
doctors' and lawyers' daughters ; the young 
ladies of a retired London merchant, and young 
ladies of the farms, all envied Lady Sangford 
her husband, her house, her equipages, her 

M 2 



244 LUCY AYLMER. 

servants, and counted her nods, and took 
humble copies of her dress, as they had done 
for three years past. 

It was from Flora, Cecil first heard of the 
Squire's reverses. Stevens, who had come up 
to London for a holiday, surprised her late 
mistress with accounts of the diminution of 
the Squire's stud ; which was quickly followed 
by Flora seeing the Manor advertised to be let 
for a term of six years. She was not aware 
that at the expiration of this time, should the 
Squire have been unable to pay off the mort- 
gage, the elder brother's estate would pass into 
the hands of the younger. Flora who was as 
ignorant of all her husband's affairs, as in the 
days of their separation, knew nothing of this 
unhappy mortgage ; the pain Flora's sensitive, 
just mind received, on the discovery that her 
husband had indeed induced Sir Edgar to 
make him the heir to his vast property, to the 
exclusion of the Aylmers, and that he was the 
relation, until whose death Archer had left her 
to pine away in solitude, would have been 
augmented ten-fold, had she know^n how com- 
pletely Archer had drawn the Squire into his 
power, and for what end. 



LUCY AYLMER. 245 

Flora could not bear to think that while they 
were rollinof in wealth, Robert, the rig^htful 
heir to such a vast portion of it, was toiling 
arduously to enable him to live. It seemed to 
her also cruel and unjust in her husband to 
withhold help from his brother. She was 
troubled — the lines upon her fair brow in- 
creased. She wrote to Cecil begging him to 
come down and spend the following Sunday 
with her. Cecil came, they walked to church 
together in the morning. Flora started early, 
and took her brother round their beautifully 
kept grounds, and through some fields, where 
little lambs were sporting in the sun. 

" You have brought me a pretty detour,'' 
Cecil said, " it is very good of you. Flora." 

" I did not come this way for pleasure," 
Flora replied. " I want to talk to you, Cecil. 
I ^\\A\ you to tell me candidly if I have acted 
rightly towards my brother-in-law. I did it for 
the best, yet I tremble lest he should discover 
the author, and his pride be wounded." 

" Upon my word, Flora, you excite 
mv curiositv wonderfullv !" Cecil said 
lauo^hinsj. 



246 LUCY AYLMER. 

riora sniilecl, but her smile was forced 
and quickly vanished. 

"It is nothing laughable, Cecil ; for poor 
Phil is in great difficulties." 

The expression on Cecil's countenance 
changed from one of playfulness to great 
interest. 

" Who is your authority, Flora ?" he 
asked. 

" Stevens told me all about it — my brother- 
in-law has sold his hunters. What do you 
think of that, Cecil ? He has only one horse 
left ?" Mora looked up enquiringly. 

" That looks strange," Cecil said musingly, 
then after a moment's pause, he observed, 
" perhaps grief may have caused him to give 
up the chase ; in that case retaining his hunters 
would be useless." 

" Yes, Cecil ! but then the Manor is adver- 
tised to be let for six years. What can it 
mean, for Phil is so attached to the place ?" 
" It means, Plora, that he is in difficulties. 
I see clearly," Cecil said thoughtfully. " I 
should not at all be surprised if he has mort- 
gaged the estate." 



LUCY AYLMER, 247 

" Oh, I hope not !" Mora repUed. ^' Well, 
Cecil, I wanted to tell you, I sent Phil a sum 
I thought would assist him, in secret, mind. 
I do so hope he will not find out the 
donor. Was I right?" she asked anxiously. 
" I am always so afraid of doing wrong." 

" Poor old Plora !" Cecil said good- 
humouredly, " so you have been playing the 
good sister to Phil Neville ! let me hear how 
you managed it." 

" I forwarded it to him at different times 
by post-office orders on Branstone, signed in a 
ficticious name, and enclosed Phil a paper in 
a disguised hand and a name corresponding." 

Flora looked very frightened. 

" Well done, Plora !" said Cecil laughing, 
" that will save poor Neville his riding 
horse. I cannot imagine how you conceived 
the idea." 

" I wanted to do some good. I determined 
on the day of our dear Lucy's funeral, I 
would try to begin, but it is slow work," she 
said mournfully. " I have more money than I 
know what to do with, and so few really 
useful channels for it to flow into." 



248 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Wish for them and they will appear/' 
Cecil said in a kind tone. 

" How I wish 1 knew if Phil had really 
mortgaged the estate !" Flora said musingly. 

" I will not rest until I have tried 
to find out," was Cecil's rejoinder.. 

" 1 wonder what the mortgage would be 
worth ?" Flora said. 

" That depends on many things — the extent 
of the property mortgaged, and the term of 
years. And then poor Neville is sure to be 
taken in." 

" Good-hearted and generous people are 
always made a prey," added Flora. 

Just at that moment the church bells 
struck up loudly, and emerging from a nar- 
row footpath on to the high road, they en- 
countered a troop of people wending their 
way church- ward. There were bows to be 
exchanged, and a few greetings, and finally 
the daughters of the retired resident of the 
villa made so many kind inquiries after his 
lordship's cold, that they lasted all the way 
to the church door ; and then the young 
ladies entered their pew with their minds so 



LUCr AYLMER. 249 

filled with her ladyship's handsome brother, 
as to lose their places many times in their 
velvet-bound prayer-books, and to be quite 
at a loss concerning the substance of a very 
high-flown sermon delivered by a meagre 
curate, who, having fasted through Lent, 
wore a dejected and weary appearance, claim- 
ing rather pity than either approval or 
ridicule. 

The afternoon was accompanied by a violent 
storm of hail and rain. As Lady Sangford 
did not go again to church, she distributed 
books among her servants. She fancied it 
was what Lucy would have done, had she 
been mistress of a large household. Flora 
liked to endeavour to imitate Lucy ; she could 
not have taken a sweeter example. Ah ! 
how those words were verified in the sleeping 
Lucy, " She being dead, yet speaketh !" 

It rained on, and the wind blew cold 
around the house, when Flora sat down by 
her dressing-room fire. She wanted some- 
thing to read, so she took from a locked 
drawer a packet of Lucy's letters. Flora 
slowly perused them, and wept as she read, 

M 3 



250 LUCY AYLMER. 

and formed resolves. One or two passages 
particularly called forth both resolve and deep 
thought. In one dated "Rome," Lucy, in 
reply to a repining letter from Lady Sangford, 
wrote : " To be happy, dear Flora, we must 
be holy, and to be holy we must love Heaven 
better than all the world, better than our- 
selves !" There was one very old letter, 
written in the early days of their friendship. 
The hand was scarcely formed ; a bunch of 
dried violets rested between the paper. 
" There was a beautiful sunset to-night ; 
even the ground looked golden. I stood in 
the portico till dusk, until the sun was gone, 
and the stars had come, and I fancied I knew 
a little what angels felt, only they see within 
Heaven, and I had been looking without. 
Dear Lady Flora, what a day that will be 
when we stand by the angels within, never 
more to leave the golden gates." Her last 
letter, dated from " Rome " ended with these 
words : " Flora, do not pity me ; I hope 
on ; and hope ends in a harp and a 
crown !" 

Flora laid down the letters, and her face 



LUCY AYLMER. f^J 



was bathed in tears. " 1 will, will live as 
Lucy lived, that I may die as Lucy died, 
and mn a crown too," Flora murmured. 

She gathered up her precious letters, put 
them carefully under lock and key, then sat 
reviewing her life past and present. She 
found very few bright spots in it. Thus 
dreamily occupied, she remained till the fire 
became low. The hail pattered against 
the windows with a fury that threatened to 
beat them in. She felt lonely and desolate, 
and went down stairs to join her husband. 
He w^as walking up and down the library 
with his arms crossed, and his coat buttoned 
up to the chin. Occasionally he paused and 
looked out of the long windows, and swore 
at the verandah for making the room so 
dark. Flora looked alarmed, but she w^nt 
up to him, and put her hand on his arm. 
Archer took no notice of her, but continued 
his walk. Cecil, who was sitting by the fire, 
rose as Flora came in, and asked her what 
she thought of the storm. 

Flora's reply was, " Oh ! the weather is 
very dismal !" 

" What in the name of goodness have 



252 LUCY AYLMER. 

you been doing with yourself all this time ?" 
Archer said. 

" Reading and dreaming," Elora repHed, 
with a timid smile. 

" If you had wanted to go to church again, 
you could have had the horses out," Archer 
said impatiently. 

" Oh, yes Archer ! thank you, I know, but 
the weather was much too bad." 

" I should think, the thermometer must 
be below zero, it is freezing to the bone !" 
Archer shrugged his shoulders and dropped 
Flora's arm. He opened the door, and 
looked into the verandah ; " if it clears, we 
will take a turn, Erresford." 

"Oh, Archer dear!" Flora began, then 
stopped suddenly and looked frightened. 

" Would you not do wrong in going out ?" 
Cecil said, " this cold, damp air is the very 
worst thing for your chest, Sangford." 

" Tush !" exclaimed Archer, " folly ! nurs- 
ing is only for women !" The chill air 
blew in from the open door, Flora shivered. 
Archer retreated. " There is a break in 
the clouds," he said, " these April evenings 
often turn out fine." 



LUCY AYLMER. 253 

" I question for to-night/' Cecil rejoined. 

Archer took up the newspaper and lounged 
in an easy chair. Flora stood near a window 
and indulged in painful thoughts occasioned 
bv Archer's couo;h. 

Presently Cecil said : 

" I am going to run down to Forsted early 
this week — can I take any message for 
you? 

" None, Erresford," repHed Archer, still 
occupied with the paper. 

'' Oh ! Cecil, you can take that little like- 
ness of Lucy I have copied for Phil," Flora 
exclaimed. 

" Phil is trying to let the place, and wisely 
too," said Archer. " If he does not try some 
other means of living, I do not know what 
is to become of him. I have helped him 
till I can help him no longer." 

Flora looked surprised, and Cecil said : 

"What has he done with his yearly in- 
come?" at the same time giving Archer a 
peculiarly searching look. 

" That is best known to himself," was 
Archer's short reply. 



254 LUCY AYLMER. 

" I hope he has not mortgaged the estate," 
said Cecil. 

" It is what many extravagant men do," 
Archer repHed carelessly. 

*' Has he ever hinted at the possibihty of 
such a thing?" asked Cecil. 

" He talked of it years ago." 

" We will hope it ended there," said Cecil. 
"It is generally fools who mortgage, and 
knaves who entice them into it." 

Archer rose, and paced the room again. 

" He has only one daughter to think of 
now. The best thing he can do is to marry 
her to some rich fellow ; and surely the 
leavings from his extravagance would keep 
Phil, with a little assistance now and 
then." 

Flora looked proud of her husband. 
Cecil looked at him, but not proudly ; there 
was contempt mingled with pity in his 
gaze. 

"Phil might have made a fine thing 
out of that estate," Archer went on. "A 
little money laid out on the houses, and 
he could have raised the rents to advantage." 



LUCY AYLMER. 255 

" Oh ! but the people are so poor !" ven- 
tured Flora. 

" Let them work," was Archer's re- 
joinder. " Soft landlords get nothing for 
their pains. My maxim is, * Charity begins 
at home.' " 

" My maxim is, ' Love your neighbour as 
yourself," Cecil said in a straight -forward 
tone. 

" Ah, my good fellow ! you were born rich ; 
you can afford to be sentimental!" Archer 
replied contemptuously. 

The storm ceased ; there was even a bright 
sunset. Archer walked with Cecil till dusk. 
Flora remained at home, and cried about 
Archer's cough, and thought over their con- 
versation. 

That very evening, the Squire and Maude 
walked up and down the path between the 
shrubberies, in earnest conversation. 

"It is time we should leave, Maude, when 
I have presents of charity sent me. You do 
not think it can be Erresford ?" 

" Certainly not, papa ; the signatures are in 
a lady's hand. Besides, Mr. Erresford would 
never do so." 



256 LUCY AYLMER. 

Maude's colour heightened, and her proud 
lip curled. 

" It must have been intended in kindness ; 
but it is a most ill-judged thing !" 

" I am certain Archer will keep his word/' 
the Squire said. " It was part of the agree- 
ment, that no one should know of the mort- 
gage. I have got some pride left, and will 
never live upon any one's bounty." 

" Papa, would it not be almost best," 
Maude said, " to accept that offer you had of 
letting the Manor for two years — at the end 
of that time you might find another tenant ?" 

" Where are we to go, Maude ?" the 
Squire asked. " It must be some precious 
cheap place, where we can save. If I could 
only pay off the mortgage in six years ! It 
breaks my heart to think of the old place 
going away from you !" 

" Oh ! never mind me, papa," replied 
Maude. " What do you think of some 
German village — we could live upon almost 
nothing there ?" 

'*Such living as it would be!" grumbled 
the Squire. " We should be poisoned by 
sour wines and greasy cooking." 



LUCY AYLMER. 257 

Maude laughed a dreary sort of laugh ; 
and just then, when feeling particularly for- 
lorn, was it strange that her thoughts flew to 
Cecil Erresford ? Why should she think of 
him, I wonder ? 

" I am glad my poor little flower knew 
none of this trouble," the Squire said, turning 
his head away. " We did well to keep the 
mortgage from her. Maude, it breaks my 
heart to think how it would have grieved hers 
to see the old home go into other hands, even 
though it should be one of our own family 
who becomes its master." 

Maude sighed, and a tear fell on her black 
dress. 

"We must act in some way, papa," she 
said firmly. 

" It was a good offer that man made 
yesterday — two years. Ah, well ! as you 
say, we can get some one else for the other 
four." 

" We could save immensely by living on 
the continent, papa," pleaded Maude. " Per- 
haps in two years we could pay off" the 
house." 

" Ay, and the next four might save the 



258 LUCY AYLMER. 

land. My poor old cottages must go. Archer 
would make a tight landlord to the old 
folks." 

" Perhaps Uncle Archer would extend the 
length of time, and so enable you to pay oflF 
all, papa," suggested Maude. 

" Your uncle is a straighter man than I 
took him for. I wrote him several letters on 
that very subject, and his answers were not 
altogether what I liked. Never mind ! I 
have burnt 'em — the best plan with disagree- 
ables in black and white." 

"I am sure we do not want Uncle Archer's 
help," Maude said proudly ; "do we, papa ?" 

" Let him keep it if he likes it — let every 
fellow do what he pleases with his own. 
Archer has saved, and I have been a spend- 
thrift ; we both reap the harvest of our sown 
oats — mine is a famine, his a land of plenty. 
I don't envy him or any man. or hate them 
as some folks do, because they are rich." 

" That is a mean and vulgar spirit," Maude 
said. " You, dear papa, can never accuse 
yourself of anything but generosity." 

"Heigho!" sighed the Squire. " The last 
has been a woeful year. My sweet bird has 



LUCY AYLMER. 259 

flown where I can never bring her back again 
— there will be no one left soon to put flowers 
about her grave." The Squire's voice grew 
husky, as he said again : " woeful times these 
have been !" 

Maude's tears fell fast. 

The Squire put his arm over her shoulder. 

" Never mind, my queen, we will try and 
save the home yet." 

" Oh, papa ! it is not the ' home ' — it is our 
Lucy I mourn for. No troubles were troubles 
as long as we had her with us ; now it is all 
dark !" 

The Squire groaned, Maude roused herself 
and tried to comfort him, but failed. His lost 
' bird ' had been his comforter — every one's 
comforter — but Lucy was not ; the angels had 
come for her ! That night, when every one 
thought the Squire slept, he climbed the 
church-yard gate, and stood by her grave. 
A plain white stone bearing her name and age, 
and the simple word ' Peace ' beneath, marked 
where she was laid to rest ; he stood there in 
the starry night, and wept, and called his 
child back, but no voice could answer ! 



260 LUCY AYLMER. 

" The next day the Squire's home was 
rented by a stranger. 

Cecil did visit Forsted, thinking much of 
Maude, and longing to extricate the Squire 
from any troubles into which his old habits of 
extravagance and love of the turf might have 
involved him ; but to his great disappointment, 
his bright plans were all damped, by finding 
Maude proud and reserved, and her father 
very tardy in communicating anything con- 
cerning himself and his own affairs. He 
assumed an indifferent tone when he spoke of 
having let the house, and hoped Cecil would 
come on the continent in the summer, and 
pay them a visit. Of course, Cecil enquired 
where they were going to take up their resi- 
dence, and heard, with surprise, that they had 
already fixed on the neighboursd of Coblentz, 
according to the advice of Captain Prescott, 
who had lived there many years on half-pay, 
before coming into a property. 

Cecil was more then ever convinced that 
something had gone unusually wrong with the 
Squire, though what that wrong was, baffled 
all his ingenuity to discover ; and he returned 



LUCY AYLMER. 261 

to London dissatisfied, and with his plans and 
wishes unfulfilled. 

A fortnight after his visit, the Squire and 
Maude called to bid him farewell, before 
leaving England. They brought little Harry 
Avith them, and at Cecil's request, left him for 
the afternoon. It was interesting to see the 
care Cecil took of Lucy's child — their visit 
to a bazaar, and the carriage full of toys 
Harry brought back. It was from the child 
Cecil learnt that Stevens was gone, and ' Aunt 
Maude ' was his nurse now — this still more 
convinced him of their reduced circumstances. 
The Squire and Maude remained with Lord 
Sangford during the few days they sojoiu-ned 
in town. Flora did all she could to ascertain 
the state of the Squire's affairs, but he was as 
reserved with her as with Cecil, and only said 
that Maude and he required change. The 
Squire half suspected Mora to be the sender 
of the two-hundred pounds, but he hardly 
liked to charge her with it, so the money was 
lodged at his banker's, ready to be repaid 
whenever he should be able to discover the 
donor. 

Archer's health continued to decline. He 



262 LUCY AYLMKR. 



had worn thinner even in the fortnidit since 
he had returned to town. The Squire begged 
him to take care of himself, to rest awhile, 
and was kind and brotherly as only the 
Squire would be to one who returned his 
affection so coldly. 

" If you get worse, old boy, only send for 
me, and I will nurse you. Phil Neville 
never forgets, and you have been a kind 
brother to me !" were the Squire's words at 
parting. Archer's were — 

'' You are a great fool to exile yourself, 
Phil !" 

The Squire wrote often to his brother from 
Andernach, their place of abode. Archer 
responded seldom. At last, as summer ad- 
vanced, Lord Sangford's letters ceased ; then 
came one from Plora, relating how Archer 
had been brought home half dead one day 
from the House, and that he was sinking 
fast. Flora's postcript contained the words 
"Pity me!" 

It was the first of July when Squire Neville 
drove into Belgrave Square, where Lord 
Sangford's town house stood. It was a 
splendid mansion containing reception-rooms 



LUCY AYLMER. 263 

that were the talk of the pohte world ; indeed, 
the highest compliment that could be paid 
to any saloons was to compare them to Lady 
Sangford's. Some people have been known 
to ask if she enjoyed them ? How could they 
make such a remark ? Of course her Ladyship 
could not exist without them ! Elegant queen - 
like creature !" these were epithets constantly 
bestowed on her, and of much envy had she 
been the innocent cause. Who envied her 
now, when at twelve o'clock that summer's 
day, just as the Squire arrived at his brother's 
door, the servants closed the shutters of the 
splendid mansion. Archer, Lord Sangford, 
had passed away into the land where rank, 
wealth, and fame follow not. 

Lady Sangford was a widow. After four 
years of married life, the husband she had 
made her idol, and whose slave she had been, 
was carried off in the zenith of his power and 
ambition ; a neglected cold ended in a rapid 
dechne, and death laid him beneath a splendid 
monument in England's Abbey. A fellow- 
statesman eulos^ized his memorv in the 
House, and part of this eulogy figured on his 
tomb It proclaimed to the world his virtues 



264 LUCY AYLMER. 

in public life. He was a friend to his covintry, 
a conscientious performer of every duty — com- 
manding the respect and esteem of his equals, 
the love of his inferiors — then in private life, 
the tomb set him up as an example to 
husbands, sons and brothers — to masters and 
landowners. Was the tomb truth-telling or 
exaggerating, is a question, not one of the 
gazers at the full length figure looking sternly 
down on them, and the lines of carved letters 
below, ever paused to enquire. 

The simple stone still white and fresh 
beneath St. Walburga's shade, bears the one 
word " Peace !" Forsted people often come 
when their day's hard labour is ended, and 
stay awhile, tending and watering the flowers 
that grow around that grave. Old Robbins 
has transplanted Lucy's favourite white blush 
rose from his own cottage garden, and village 
maidens have hedged it round with violets 
and snowdrops to blossom in the spring ; the 
village children never throw stones or tread 
carelessly near this spot — they linger reverently 
about it ; and one little girl often says her 
prayers by the gentle Lucy's grave. Every 
rustic villager believes in the truth of " Peace," 



LUCY AYLMER. 265 

as applied to her. Her life exemplified it, lier 
death sealed it ; and they know there is peace 
in her golden home beyond the white summer 
clouds ; as sure as they wish to get there, they 
know she is at peace. There is no need to 
fill up that white stone, by teUing old and 
young that she was a good wife, mother, 
daughter, sister; they know it — they have 
seen her the joy of her husband in days of 
smoothness ; and when sorrows came, they 
have seen her lighten them, and enduring 
patiently, rest when her work was done. 

They know her childish laugh was brightest 
when her boy was in her arms ; they knew she 
was sweet as the lily and the violet to her father 
— the pride of her sister. What need to tell them 
she was the friend of the poor ? One and all 
would stand forth to proclaim it. The ignorant 
and sick, as well as the happy and robust, 
would all tell you and vie with each other m 
declaring it. They were sick, and she visited 
them — she rejoiced with those that rejoiced, 
and mourned in their time of sorrow ! So 
there is no need to raise a proud monument 
in memory of the young wife of the Vicar of 
Forsted. Her memory lives in the hearts of 

VOL. III. N 



266 LUCY AYLMER. 

those around — she sleeps beneath the fair, 
fresh flowers, not beneath the cold stone where 
the statesman is laid. 

The stately Countess carried her wddowed 
daughter away to the estate in Essex, and 
among the haunts of her dreary childhood. 
Lady Sangford nursed her sorrow : it was of a 
bitter kind, intense love without respect — 
idolatry without one perfection in the idol. 
Such had been her life, and now she refused to 
be comforted. The whole of husband's 
property was left to his widow, and among 
the papers relating to this almost regal 
wealth, were recovered the deeds which 
mortgaged the Manor. 



LUCY AYLMER. 267 



CHAPTER XII. 

" Ce que je desire et que j'aime, 

C'est toujours toi, c'est toujours toi. 
Pour mon arae le bien supreme, 

C'est encore toi, c'est encore toi. 
Si j'ai cle beaux jours dans la vie, 

All ! c'est par toi, 
Et mes larmes qui les essuye ? 

C'est encore toi, c'est encore toi." 

The path under the hills, leading to 
Andernach was golden with sunshine. Wild 
flowers grew at its edges, and the fruit trees 
lining the roads beyond were tempting, and 
produced Eve-like thoughts. The sky overhead 
was dazzling in its brightness, and all nature 
looked so glad and beautiful, it was enough 
to make one sing for joy. 

Along this path, on an August evening, 

N 2 



268 LUCY AYLMER. 

came. Squire Neville, handsome and sunburnt, 
bearing on bis shoulder his sturdy little 
grandson brandishing a tiny whip and call- 
ing, " gee, wo, horsey" and looking a little 
shadow of himself. On went the Squire, and 
when he was nearly out of sight, Maude, a 
large black straw hat shading her face, came 
along the hill-side path, and Cecil Erresford 
was by her side. Every now and then she 
stopped to cull a floweret, and presently, 
rather saucily she answered to something he 
had been saying. 

" Really, you are made of hope ! Well, it is 
a good ingredient in one's composition !" 

" It is," replied Cecil, " I have hoped 
many things — all are realized save one ; but 
I hope on, that this, the dearest hope of my 
hopes, may not be hoped in vain." 

Maude picked up a pebble, and tossing it 
into the flowing river, at her feet, watched it 
fall, leaving behind it numberless air circlets 
all merging one into the other. " How still 
and clear the water is, you might almost 
fancy you could see my pebble." 

" How thankful it must feel to you for 
transporting it from the dusty path to that 



LUCr AYLMER. 269 

cool bed, no one to trample it under foot — no 
wheels to grind it, or crush it ?" 

" You speak feelingly, as if you had lived 
and known a pebble's life," Maude said. 

" I like now and then to imagine myself in 
the place of inanimate nature," Cecil re- 
phed. 

" Really, Mr. Erresford, I did not think 
you were such a dreamer !" 

" It has gradually crept over me since I 
have joined you at Andemach. T find it a 
delicious disease." 

" I fear I am totally matter-of-fact. I never 
indulge myself thus," Maude sighed. 

" You never take ideal flights ? Oh, Miss 
Neville, that is ganz und gar unmoglich ! 
people with your eyes and temperament must 
dream. You have far off eyes, and a nature to 
throw around you fairy webs of gold." 

" You utterly mistake me. I remember only 
one day dream;" Maude's eyes overflowed 
with tears. " It was that dreadful day when 
my darling sister was laid to her rest, and as 
I looked at the snow-covered grave, I longed 
to die and rest by her side. I shut my eyes, 
and in my dream I looked back from the 



270 LUCY AYLMER. 

shores of the silent land on the mortals I left 
behind." 

" You looked back on unquenchable tears ! 
That was a cruel dream, which left all behind 
you so unmurmuringly." 

Maude said softly, '' I had not a thought 
but of her, until my eyes fell on my father." 

" Ah, he is worth living for l" Cecil ex- 
claimed, pulling as he went the flowers form 
the way-side. 

" Do you not think papa looks brighter, 
Mr. Erresford ? I do feel very grateful to you, 
for papa tells me, though he loves and adores 
her memory every hour of the day with in- 
creasing intensity, yet you have taught him, 
if she could look down, it would grieve her 
tender heart to see him grieve so. He does not 
foster sorrow, but tries to be cheerful again 
for Harry's sake and mine." Maude looked 
very beautiful as she said this, looking up 
with her deep, speaking eyes ; a heap of 
stones almost crossed their path. Cecil called 
it * the hill of difficulties,' and gave Maude 
his hand to assist her. '' These stones are 
like the roughs of life," he said in a low tone. 
" I only wish your roughs might be as easily 



LUCY AYLMER. 271 

surmounted, and I ever near to help you 



over." 



Maude sprang down the rest with a bound 
as much as to say, " I can help myself !" one 
moment retaining only the shade of gravity 
in look and manner which she had never lost 
since the shock of her sister's sudden death ; 
the next, all her proud brilliancy hanging 
around her. Cecil thought her perfectly en- 
chanting, There was a moment's silence ; 
then Cecil said : 

" I wish we had my sister Flora here to 
sketch the landscape from this point de vue. 
Her beautiful artistic taste would produce an 
effect." 

" It really is charming — the lovely flowers 
and the noble river flowing beneath us, with 
the golden flush over all ; and those peasants 
would come in so well in the foreground with 
papa and Harry. What a pity you are not 
an artist !" 

" If I were, lady fair, I should not have 
spoiled it by your omission." 

" We were the originators ; decidedly we 
ought to keep out of our own picture," Maude 
said. " I think it was quite a well-judged 



272 LUCY AYLMER. 

omission. The artist does not usually place 
himself in his own group." 

" The picture would be sadly incomplete, 
were Miss Neville left out. Stay a moment — 
voyons /" Cecil took from his pocket a letter, 
and, begging the pencil from Maude's watch- 
chain, he sketched, on the unwritten side of the 
note, a tolerably correct outline of the figures 
en avant, Maude and himself in the rear, with 
hills and tree clumps in the back ground. 

" I opine Flora would form a chef-d'cBuvre 
from this," said Cecil. " Her colouring would 
come in to perfection." 

" You have managed it capitally," replied 
Maude laughing, as she looked at the sketch. 
" There will be no occasion to number it after 
the fashion of a Royal Academy frame — A, 
the peasant's cart; B, the driver; C, Harry 
en avant, etc." 

" I am glad of your favourable opinion ; 
for I imagined Harry bore some resemblance 
to a plant, species unknown." 

" One of the Kohlruhen tribe," Maude 
added. " His hat certainly is ambiguous." 
Maude lifted her head from the sketch. " But 
the original has passed away from sight. 



LUCY AYLMER. 273 

Mr. Erresford, they have rounded that hilly 
curve, I suppose." 

" N'importe, they have left us to the sweets 
of solitude/' replied Cecil. 

"*0h! solitude, where are thy charms?'" 
said Maude. " I cannot imagine how any 
one can chaunt its praises. I am entirely a gre- 
garious animal." 

" Oh ! Miss Neville, you would not detract 
from solitude, were you a dreamer !" 

" I prefer reality to dreams — I never was 
of an imaginative temperament. I can enjoy 
scenery, and carry its delights away in my 
memory ; but I cannot poetize ou it. Of 
course, you versify occasionally ?" 

" Quelquefois ! I have been in a poetic 
frame the last few days. At some future 
time I shall ask you to be my critic." 

" Mind, I am a severe one," Maude replied. 
" Oh ! stay just one moment ! what a lovely 
bed of flowers ?" 

Erresford sprang up the bank, singing, as 
he culled the bright blossoms, the sixth of 
Mendelsohn's two-part songs, which Maude 
had taught him. Maude took up the 

N 3 



274 LUCY AYLMER. 

words, and the air rang with their clear 
voices. 

*' Oh ! what a heavenly spot this is !" 
she exclaimed, as Cecil came down the 
bank, and placed a bunch of flowers in her 
hand. 

" It is verily and truly a golden hour in a 
golden day," replied Cecil. ''But surely 
there must be ' forget-me-nots ' somewhere 
in this moist spot; our song is incomplete 
without them. ' Verglss-mein-nicht und 
Ehren-preiss und veilchen sind dabei.' Ah ! 
I see a blue nook of them on the water's edge !" 

" Papa has been picking some for Harry," 
said Maude. " There are footmarks." 

"The flowers are nearly past and over 
now," remarked Cecil; "nevertheless, there 
are some for us." 

Maude's proud eyes rested on the sky- 
reflecting waters, as Cecil broke off" the tiny 
flowerets. When he brought them to her, he 
said in an earnest tone : 

"If I were to improvise on the spot, 
would you bear with me patiently and 
leniently ?" 



LUCY ATLMER. 275 

"That depends," Maude replied, "on 
the rhyme, and the metre, and a thousand 
other things. Still I grant permission. 
Begin." 

Maude fastened her " forget-me-nots " in 
the brooch of her shawl, and looked far away 
in the distance, while Cecil indulged his 
poetic flight. 



" ' Fo-get-me-not !' 'tis the voice of flowers, 
Telling of swiftly-fleeting hours, 
When the sun like a glory fell 
O'er mountain path, o'er lowland dell. 

"' Forget-me-not !' 'tis the carol of birds, 
A music fit for sweetest words. 
Which asks for friendship's richest boon, 
Lest mem'ry fade, and pass too soon. 

" ' Forget-me-not !' 'tis the soft breeze's sigh, 
As gentle hearts are passing by. 
And gives the soul the tender thought. 
Which makes all else appear as nought. 

" ' Forget-me-not !' in your true, noble heart. 
Oh ! could I claim the humblest part ! 
I then would in elysium rest. 
With peace and joy for ever blest. 



276 LUCY AYLMER. 

" ' Forget-me-not !' and ray voice I'll raise. 
In glowing strains of fondest praise, 
While songs of happiness and love, 
Eorget not ! echo from above." 

There was a hushed stiUiiess when the 
thrilUng accents of Cecil's voice ceased to fall 
on the breezy air. It might have been only 
the sunlight playing over Maude's face, that 
it wore such a glow — a glow which shone 
even from her large, speaking eyes ; or was it 
from the heart within that this sunnner-glow 
came ? Who could tell ? She gazed on at 
the mountains shading far off with the clouds 
and sky, and thus uniting the earth and the 
Heavens, and her ruby- coloured lips were un- 
parted. Thus she w^alked on, her hands 
hanging down full of flowers — a very Flora, 
"herself the queen of flowers. And silently 
the companion at her side trod the uneven, 
sloping path, until they came to a sucklen 
bend crossed by a little stream, over which 
a piece of wood was laid. Maude stood still 
here, and looked around. 

" We must turn back up the mountain 
here," Cecil said ; and he held out his hand 



LUCY AYLMER. 277 

to assist her over the rough bridge, but she 
sprang hghtly over unaided, and went on, 
with her head erect, and the hght bending 
over her. She started when Cecil's voice 
again broke the stilhiess. " Maude !" he 
said, in a deep, earnest tone. 

She turned her face round, and her proud 
expression was strangely softened. 

" May it be ?" he asked, in a low voice. 
" Will you become the ' forget-me-not,' and 
ever bloom on my life's path ?" 

She paused a moment ; then stooping 
down, and raising one of the flowers from its 
lowly bed near the mountain stream, placed 
it in his hand. Her lips quivered : she 
was too proud to trust herself to speak. 
He pressed the flower to his lips, then 
said : 

"Maude, I must tell you the early 
thouo;hts of mv heart. It is due to you 
that you should hear them, ere you answer 
me. Maude, I have loved before !" 

She kept her head erect, her eyes cast 
down, her lips unparted ; and he went on, in 
a low, whispering tone : 

*' Yes, Maude ! the day we first met my 



278 LUCY AYLMER. 

heart was filled with a joy I never felt before. 
And yet Maude, it was not for you." 

Maude raised her head, and her bright, 
dark eyes glanced on him. 

" It was she our flower — our sweet lily ! 
Who could see her, and not love her ! 
It is past and long gone by now, and is 
supplanted by another and deeper feeling 
which nought on earth can eradicate. You 
do not reject me because I loved her first, 
Maude, loved one?" he said in a thrilling 
tone. 

*' I only wonder," she replied in a low voice, 
" how you can care for me after her. Mr. 
Erresford, we were in every way different ; you, 
who studied her, knew well what she was — so 
patient, so enduring, and you must have seen 
how self-willed and head-strong I am." 

"You shall be self-willed if you please, to 
counterbalance the noble candom- and entire 
unselfishness, that stand every chance of con- 
verting my love into idolatry." 

She smiled mournfully as she said, " Take 
care you do not spoil me. I am not proof 
against it, as she was." 

" Maude !" Cecil said suddenly, resting his 



LUCY ATLMER. 279 

hand on hers, and drawing her attention to a 
sun-tipped cloud, dark below, above one blaze 
of purple and crimson, and encircled at the 
edges like a glory. 

" Ah, it is beautiful !" she said, " almost 
beyond beauty." Then lifting up her eyes 
with a trembling archness, " You will read me 
some good lesson from its brilliancy." 

" Not a lesson, but a truth. That cloud is 
hke our life, if we look only earthward. It was, 
nay still is dark, for we can never call our 
angel sister back; but look above, how it 
shines even as she shines in heaven ! Let us, 
sweet Maude, shine on earth so as to meet her 
there, when the day breaks and the shadows 
flee away." 

Maade's tears flowed fast down her cheeks. 
Cecil kept a moment's silence : they both 
thought, even in the day of their love, of her 
who would have rejoiced over it. 

The Squire and Harry had taken their 
ramble and arrived at the house, which formed 
their temporary home, while the sun was 
yet shining in the sky, but it had sunk to 
rest. 

Cecil and Maude returned, her hands 



280 LUCY AYLMER. 

full of flowers, her hair damp with the 
evening dew, beautiful Maude ! She brushed 
past her father, who stood at the entrance, and 
ran up-stairs to her own room, and wept sore, 
even in the midst of her joy, that her Lucy 
was not there to share it ! 

As Cecil walked to and fro the sloping 
garden, when the evening hour blended with 
the calm of night, the light in her casement 
shone on him like a star : but he knew not 
that his loved ' Forget-me-not' knelt long and 
silently, and asked that she too might be 
good and noble, and deserve to share the 
love, the honour, that were everywhere 
showered on him ; and that in his proud self- 
willed Maude, might be found all that made 
her sister, his first love, so lovely and holy. 

That dark winter had been followed by 
strange events. First came Archer's pre- 
mature death, which, though it had been a 
blow to the Squire, still the little attachment 
there had ever been on the part of the 
younger brother, had softened his loss to the 
elder. Then, just as the Squire was making 
up his mind to endure a continental exile, 
for purposes of economy. Flora, by cancelling 



LUCY AYLMER. 2S1 

the mortgage, and destroying the deeds, 
restored the Manor into his hands — the 
Manor, his old ancestral home, the scene of 
his hfe's joys and of its greatest sorrows, was 
his once more. No more heavy mortgage — no 
more fears that it might not descend to 
Maude. The Squire's heart was lightened, 
and when he returned to Andernach wdth 
Cecil Erresiord as his companion, he could 
do nothing but anticipate Maude's delight 
when she knew^ that there was nothing to 
prevent the old Manor becoming, at the end 
of the tw^o years, their home again. The 
Squire, too, had had the satisfaction of re- 
storing to Flora the money that had been 
so strangely sent him, and of w'hich he had 
discovered that she was the donor. 

Cecil had been with them a week, ere he 
took that delicious w^alk w4th Maude ; and 
told to her already predisposed heart the 
thoughts which had so long occupied his. 

The Squire rejoiced in his future son-in- 
law. His ow^n words on the subject were : 
"A king could not have pleased him better." 
And that very evening the Squire talked of 
the time when he should return to his 



282 LUCY AYLMER. 

home, and vowed that nothing should again 
lead him into those habits which had so 
nearly forfeited it. 

Mora's sorrow on finding the deeds of 
mortgage w^as great, but her first act after 
her husband's death was to destroy them, 
and so place beyond possibility the Manor 
ever falling into her hands. Ah, poor Flora ! 
the ill-gotten property was a burden to her. 
bhe wished she could make restitution to 
Robert Aylmer and his sister of Sir Edgar 
Tyrrell's wealth. But how to do so seemed 
difficult ; it was so interwoven and entangled 
with other wealth. But one load was taken 
off her mind when she knew the Squire's 
home was really his own again, unincumbered 
and free from all fear of hereafter losing it. 
Mora offered her brother-in-law the use of 
her country estate, until the present tenants 
of the Manor should leave. She said it would 
be a pleasure to her to know that he had a 
comfortable English home ; and that Maude 
and Harry need no longer remain far away 
from all who loved them. Tlie offer was 
made with such real sincerity, that the Squire, 
seeing the satisfaction it would give Flora, 



LUCY AYLMER. 283 

felt he could not refuse, and returned to 
Andernach, accompanied by Cecil, to fetch 
Maude and Harry away. Cecil longed 
ardently that Maude would consent to be- 
come his bride at early season, nor did the 
Squire offer any objection. Maude, how- 
ever, resisted all Cecil's in treaties. AYhen 
she had seen her father once more settled 
in the old manorial house, when she had 
seen Robert reinstated in the Vicarage, and 
her trust of Lucy's child should be over, then 
Maude would be Cecil's bride. Noble 
Maude ! Cecil admired her doubly for this, 
and patiently he waited and longed for tb^ 
day to come, when Lucy's loved sister sliould 
be his own loved wife. 



284 LUCY AYLMER. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

" The kind heart speaks with words so kindly sweet. 
That kindred hearts the catching tones repeat. 
And love therewith, his soft sigh gently blending, 

JOANNA BAILLIE. 

It is the last day of the week. The day's 
labour done, the cottager rests at his door- 
step, while children play around his knee. 
The corn is safely housed in the barns ; the 
cattle slumber in their sheds ; the birds nes- 
tle their heads beneath their wings ; flies 
dance about ; and the shadows of the sunset 
play around. The air is still and balmy, and 
Forsted St. Agnes looks very peaceful. 
The Vicarage looks very peaceful too. The 
doors stand open, and the perfume of the 
hony suckle embowering the verandah is 



LUCY AYLMER. 28 5 

wafted into the little, low-ceilinged drawing- 
room, where the last sunbeam plays on a 
picture. It is a face young and fair, and it 
rests on cloudlets — oh, it is very sweet ! Is 
it meant for an angel, I wonder ? Who 
stands before it, with figure tall and slight, 
young still, but on whose brow lines are 
marked, and among whose thick brown hair 
streaks of grey are plentifully mingled, and 
whose eyes are full of resigned sorrow ? He 
calls towards him a noble, bright-eyed boy, 
and lifts him up to the picture in the clouds, 
with the softly uttered words, " Kiss mamma, 
Harry !" and the child's rosy lips press the 
still, spirit-like face, and the child's innocent 
voice lisps : " Good-night, dear mamma," 
and then he is carried on his father's shoul- 
der to his little snow-white bed; and he 
kneels at his father's knee and repeats bis 
simple prayer, and its burden is, that he 
may be "a good boy and meet mamma in 
Heaven." And then his father leaves him 
after his evening's kiss and blessing, with 
his fond nurse, Stevens, who united to her 
faithful John, now forms part of Robert's 
household. 



286 LUCY AYLMER. 

Solitary the Vicar of Forsted stands by 
his Lucy's picture, and gazes long, and oh ! 
how sadly ! until tears fall fast and silently. 
Then he hurries them away, and goes 
forth into the village, and looks in at the 
cottage homes of those his Lucy loved 
best. When the evening light was fading, he 
sat beneath a tree in a sweet garden, 
where a brook sang beneath a rustic bridge, 
and sweet-willliams and pansies flowered, 
and talked of Sunday to a group of 
children, talked of Sunday on earth, and 
the one everlasting Sabbath in Heaven. Then 
he taught them a hymn ere they parted for the 
night, and the father of the children stood 
by with his hat off, and his fine honest English 
face all reverent attention, as Robert led on 
the young voices, who repeated, after him, the 
words ' Oh that will be joyful, when we meet 
to part no more ! and echo from the hill-tops 
rising up among the stars, gives back the 
words : " Part no more !' 

Then the vicar rose and shook hands 
with the labourer, and bade ' God bless him 
and his !' and as his feet trod the path to 
the Vicarage, and his eyes looked whither 



LUCY AYLMER. 2S7 

his heart ever wandered, to Lucy's home — 
echo and the children's sweet voices repeated : 
' It will be joyful when we meet to part no 
more !' Sing on, young hearts, take up the 
strain, deep echo, reiterate it from the lonely 
hill — send comfort to the lonely -hearted man. 
No more parting ! Again and again let the 
strain waken up his joy and soothe his sorrow 
— and tell him — oh children ! tell him, oh 
echo ! of the time when there shall be no more 
goings out, no more comings in ! ' Oh, that 
will be joyful !' 

This was the second day of Robert's return. 
The third was Sunday — a never to be forgotten 
one in the annals of Forsted, when the young 
vicar made his recantation sermon. He preached 
of repentance — humble w^as the confession he 
made of his errors, humble his hopes of future 
good and usefulness. The Squire in his pew 
could scarce refrain from an exclamation of 
" Well said, Bob !" Maude bent down her 
head. She recalled all who had been in that 
church the last time he preached. 

Cecil looked not at the past, but the dawn 
of a bright future. Harry wondered why 
his papa's voice grew so low at the end of 



288 LUCY AYLMER. 

the sermon; and why at its condusion, he cried, 
yes, Harry was sure ' papa was crying '/ The 
child wondered and looked until Lady Anne's 
beautiful organ played the congregation out 
with the ' Hallelujah Chorus.' But the con- 
gregation seemed loth to go, and stood about 
the porch, and among the grave-stones of the 
churchyard. Those who had been Robert's 
staunchest opposers some years back, waited 
till he appeared among them, to tender hearty 
expressions of allegiance and promise of hold- 
ing by him in opposition to any one else ; and 
had it not been Sunday, probably three 
cheers would have rent the air to welcome the 
return of the Vicar, and the Squire of Forsted 
St. Agnes, but these were reserved for another 
occasion. The Squire and his Maude came 
back to the Manor a week before Robert's 
arrival at the Vicarage. How the Squire 
luxuriated in his former haunts, the famihar 
voices of his old friends, the hearty welcome 
of the villagers ! and Maude was happy in the 
knowledge that she had done her duty to her 
father and Lucy's child. 

It was surprising how soon after their 
return to Worsted, every one fell into his old 



LUCY AYLMER. 289 

occupations. A few days saw the Squire on 
Dyke Moor, riding after the hounds. He could 
trust himself safely at the hunt now ; he had 
learned a lesson on betting which he never 
would forget. But the Squire's intense love of 
the chase was diminished, a taste for farming 
seemed to be superseding it ; he amused 
Maude by attending the weekly cattle market 
at Arminster, and sending home some oxen 
and sheep, for whose reception he hurdled off 
a great piece of pasture land, at the end of 
his property, hitherto suffered to run to waste ; 
and every morning the Squire donned a white 
hat, and went out to inspect his live stock. 
Maude superintended her housekeeping as of 
old, took daily rides with Cecil Erresford, and 
visited her old cottage friends. Augusta 
Neville, who had been staying about mth her 
numerous acquaintances, came to the Manor, 
and asked the Squire to receive her as his 
housekeeper ; the fair Augusta, at last, dis- 
gusted with all her matrimonial schemes, had 
determined on settling quietly down as an old 
maid. Since the Squire's absence from Porsted 
she had been twice engaged, first to Count 
Arlais, who left her to marry a dressmaker, 

VOL. III. o 



290 LUCr AYLMER. 

and then to Sir Joseph Paiilfield's son, whom 
she heartily despised, even while she accepted 
him, and who mortified one day by her cold- 
ness, went off in a sudden freak to Australia ; 
so Augusta protested there her love affairs 
should end. The Squire said it was " very 
jolly" of her to come and take care of him in 
his old age ; and in a very short time, the belle 
of manjna London circle settled down into the 
Squire's country companion — entered into his 
farming plans, and even rode to Arminster 
with him on market days, waiting at the 
house of a friend while he made his purchases. 
Robert Aylmer was settled quietly too : he 
worked hard in his parish to atone for his 
former neglect, taught in his schools, gave 
cottage lectures, took care of his little Harry ; 
and every night, before he returned home 
from his labours, he paused awhile by his 
Lucy's grave. The young Earl who found the 
air of Worsted not sufficiently bracing for his 
weak nerves, had taken up his abode with his 
mother, in Essex, where Elora is his kind and 
loving companion, though how long that will 
last, seems difficult to determine, as Lord 
Glendowan has lately found Wood Hall an 



LUCY AYLMER. 291 

extremely agreeable abode, and walking and 
driving with Flora, an extremely agreeable 
recreation ; and the long conversations they 
hold together in sohtary nooks of the grounds, 
are a great source of interest to the young Earl, 
who wonders what they can have to say. At 
times, he chose to join in these conversations, 
which embarrassed my Lord and the Lady 
Flora ; so the Countess has given herself up to 
amuse her invalid son, and plays the part of 
an amiable mother better than one could have 
expected, considering how late in Hfe she has 
commenced it. However, we will use the 
homely proverb, and say, "Better late than 
never !" 

Poor Lady Anne is never spoken of in the 
Countess's presence now. A very short time 
after Lord Sangford's death, she devoted her- 
self and all her property to the forming a 
sisterhood on an extensive scale, in the north 
of England, where she steadfastly refuses to 
see any of her relations. 

It was June when the Squire returned 
home : but it was not until September, that 
the talk of the village was Maude's coming 
wedding. It was to be extremely quiet, to 

o 2 



292 LUCY AYLMER. 

remind them as little as possible of Lucy's. 
Elora presented Maude with a beautiful 
trousseau, and the Countess gave her a set of 
splendid jewels. Her ladyship approved of 
her son's choice ; indeed, in her old age she 
seemed completely changed, and appeared to 
like everything, but the bustle and gaiety of a 
London life, which used to form her chief 
delight, but which now she found tiresome 
and stupid. The Countess certainly would 
have liked her son's wedding to have been 
celebrated with some show and festivity ; but 
when she saw that still all hearts mourned for 
Lucy, and no one liked to revive the remem- 
brance of her wedding-day, and how they all 
desired to spare Robert's feelings, as much as 
possible — she refrained from her wishes and 
suggestions, and ended by saying she had no 
doubt it would be elegant and pretty. 

It was on a bright September morning, 
when the sun shone over leaves of red and 
gold, and an autumn wind blew little snowy 
clouds about the sky, that Forsted church 
doors were opened, and Forsted church-yard 
was filled with villagers. Cecil Erresford, 
with his brother as groomsman, walked 



LUCr AYLMER. 293 

through their midst, speaking kind words as 
they passed. 

Shortly after, the Countess and Flora, 
escorted by Lord Glendowan, made their ap- 
pearance, quietly but elegantly dressed, and 
took their places by the chancel, where 
Augusta Neville joined them. Then the 
Squire brought the bride in her handsome 
white dress and long veil. Very close by her 
side stood Lucy's child, looking wonderingly 
up at her face, while his father, pale and 
agitated, read the service, and united his 
Lucy's sister to his own beloved friend. His 
voice just remained steady to the end of the 
service, and as Cecil and Maude waited for 
him to pass out of the chancel gates, Cecil 
pressed his hand in token of thanks and 
sympathy. 

There were flowers thrown for Maude, and 
bells rung, and Maude looked very happy. 
The Countess had sent an elegant little break- 
fast from the Castle, at which the bride and 
bridegroom were present, and then they went 
away for their little tour. An old shoe was 
thrown after them by the servants, and bless- 
ings went after them from the poor, who had 



294 LUCY AYLMER. 

all a good dinner sent to their cottages that 
day, as there was to be no gathering till Mr. 
Erresford could be present to make it merry. 

Robert took a long walk over the hills that 
afternoon, and did not return till late in the 
evening. None knew where he went ; they 
supposed to some quiet spot to hide the 
grief called forth by the remembrance of his 
own happy wedding day. 

Flora sent all over the village, and saw 
that every one had good cheer ; and many of 
the villagers said they hoped to hear the bells 
ring for her very soon, at which Flora 
coloured, and was glad Lord Glendowan was 
not within hearing. 

It was strange that she neither considered 
him old nor eccentric now. On the contrary, 
she painted a likeness of him during his 
absence, and thought what a nice picture he 
made ; and every day she found fresh talents 
and good qualities in him ; and as to his 
Lordship, he adored Flora as he had ever done ; 
though he did not venture to declare anything 
decided yet. 

Maude and Cecil were only away one fort- 
night. They were anxious to be at the Castle 



LUCY AYLMER. 295 

before the weather was too cold to give the 
vUlagers a grand out-of-doors entertainment. 
The bells merrily rang them back on Saturday 
evening; and, on the Sunday morning, Cecil 
and his bride were quietly ensconced in the 
Castle pew, joining fervently in the Hundredth 
Psalm, and listening attentively to one of 
Robert's simple but expressive sermons. The 
service over, they invited themselves to return 
and dine with Robert. They began their 
married life by thinking of others, instead of 
foolishly forgetting everyone else but them- 
selves. Yet no one seeing Maude caring for 
little Harry, and Cecil conversing cheerfully 
with Robert, would have thought them un- 
mindful of each other. Oh no ! in her frank 
tones and his pleasant voice, there were love 
and tenderness. Robert had established an 
evening service in old St. Walburga ; and, as 
Cecil and Maude walked home together in the 
moonlight, after wishing good night to Robert, 
Maude said : 

" Cecil, I am so exquisitely happy ! I only 
wish our poor Lucy's Robert could be glad 
once more 1" 

" He can never feel as we do, dear Maude ; 



296 LUCY AYLMER. 

his day for any excess of earthly joy has long 
past away ; but living, as he does, under 
the shadow of a heavenly love, he will not 
be dreary." 

" He is so good," rejoined Maude. " He 
almost equals her npw. Oh ! if she could 
only see him ! I never thought he could be 
what he is." 

" He treads the path our sister trod, 
Maude, and he is happier thus, even with 
his grey hairs and weight of grief, than many 
a man who lives a life of ease, and has not 
known sorrow." 

" Yes," replied Maude, in a subdued tone ; 
"because he is secure of his home. Poor 
dear Robert! his sorrows are deep; but he 
has no anxiety about meeting her again : that 
must be. I would rather be Robert as he 
now is, than live as poor Uncle Archer did, 
with all his riches and power." 

Maude looked up at Cecil, and her dark 
eyes were full of truth and earnestness. 

Cecil pressed the hand which rested on his 
arm so confidingly, closer, as he said softly : 

" Precious Maude ! I would rather be my- 
self now, than any one in the universe 1" 



LUCY AYLMER. 297 

" Oil, flattering husband !" she exclaimed in 
her old saucy tones. 

Cecil laughed ; then presently Maude 
said : 

" Well, I do think the world is all going 
right, everything is smooth now." 

" Smooth as the sky above us," Cecil re- 
plied. 

" Oh, Cecil !" Maude said suddenly, " I 
heard something so strange to-day. I only 
hope it will not reach Robert's ears, to revive 
the remembrance of his past sorrows ; but 
Captain Prescott told me this morning as we 
were coming out of church, that he learnt 
from his niece who is en pension at Anne's 
sisterhood, that Father Anastasio is installed 
there as confessor to the poor creatures. Do 
you not pity them?" 

'' Heartily !" replied Cecil sighing. " I ob- 
tained some information, also, the other day 
about poor Mostyn. Do you recollect him ?" 

" Oh, perfectly," replied Maude. " What 
has become of him ?" 

" Shortly after Robert left Rome, Father 
Anastasio alarmed, I suppose, at the escape 
of one of his victims, sent poor Hubert a 



298 LUCY A.YLMER. 

missionary to an Indian settlement, where he 
died a year after. The news of his death has 
only just reached England, and one of the 
Ackington brotherhood, whom I met acciden- 
tally on the platform of the station, told me 
the sad account." 

" How kind Lucy was to Mostyn !" Maude 
observed. " I should never have been half so 
good as she was." 

" May you never have to try a similar ex- 
hibition of goodness," Cecil replied, as they 
passed through the park gates. 

" I hope we shall reside principally here," 
said Maude, " it is so much more delightful 
than any other spot." 

" We shall always be attracted here," Cecil 
replied, " and except during the parliamen- 
tary season, I dare say this will generally be 
our home." 

" Home, sweet home ! there is no place like 
home," murmured Maude, " no place like 
home, and no country like England, is there, 
Cecil?" 

" And no spot like that where Maude is," 
he replied playfully. 

" I suppose I must return the compliment, 



LTJCY AYLMER. 299 

since I can do it sincerely/* Maude said 
laughing; and thus they talked on till they 
reached the Castle. 

There was just one bright, glorious day 
left that autumn, and on that, fell the village 
feast. The weather was so warm and lovely 
that there was no need of tents, and well 
crowded was the park with the neighbouring 
poor of all ages. Every pastime Cecil could 
devise, amused them ; a plentiful supply of 
good cheer regaled them ; while every possible 
kindness met them, and yet, though the feast 
was given in Cecil's honour, he ever strove to 
put his brother forward, as the rightful pos- 
sessor, and make the people look to the earl, 
and not to himself, as their landowner. Mer- 
rily sounded the voices of the happy villagers, 
as noble ladies waited on them, and noble gen- 
tlemen thought of their happiness. The feast 
was of long duration ; but when it was over, 
the children dispersed to pleasant games end- 
ing by the boys running races in sacks, which 
amusement was planned by the Squire, who 
was active in stowing the boys into the sacks, 
and supplying sixpences for the victors. 
Shouts of laughter accompanied these perfor- 
mances, and every one found a source of 



300 LUCY AYLMER. 

amusement in contemplating the droll hop- 
pings and tumblings of the rustic competitors. 
But at length the festival was over, and 
before parting, " God save the Queen" was 
sung and a hynm, and then good-nights were 
exchanged. But still no one moved, and all 
eyes were directed towards a very old man, 
the father of the flock, who being short of 
stature, was busily employed in mounting a 
table. When arrived at this post of eleva- 
tion, he begged to be heard ; and strange was 
the speech which the patriarch of Torsted de- 
livered to the ears of his audience polite and 
vulgar. 

" Ladies and gemmen !" he began, " I be 
an old man ; I be seen nigh the end of my 
days ; but old though I be and poor of speech, 
yet I could not leave this place without put- 
ting forth a humble word and thanks to the 
ladies and gemmen for their greatness and 
goodness this day. I be seen twenty years 
come and twenty years go these four times ; 
Dut never mortal day like this day, when, 
after gloomy like times, right comes right 
again, and the Squire and Vicar comes back to 
their own ; and Mr, Erresford, God bless him. 
a million times ! takes our young lady as his 



LUCY AYLMER. 301 

lady — may we, my lads and companions, ever 
live worthy of our Squire, our Pa'son, and of 
Mr. Erresford and his lady, and my Lord De 
Walden ; may we ever be true to 'em all, and 
thankful for the favours all their lives spread 
on us. May we all be good church-going 
folks — good fathers and mothers — brothers and 
sisters, with such examples as we have set 
before us ; and if any one on us goes wrong, 
just go and look at that ere little grave yon- 
der, and think how Miss Lucy lived, and how 
Miss Lucy died, and let's try to do likewise ! 
May we ever keep sober, honest, industrious, 
and do our duty by our masters and ourselves, 
and hold by the Pa'son as long as he lives. 
Now, my lads, who'll join old Bill Robbins in 
three cheers for the Pa'son and Master HaiTy, 
and may those never have a happy day who 
don't ! Now my lads and lasses, hip, hip !" 

Then burst on the air such hurrahs as 
almost deafened those who heard them. 

" Now, my lads and lasses," shouted the 
indefatigable old orator, " three good cheers 
for the Squire ; long life to him !" 

Loud shouts again arose, women and chil- 
dren not one whit behind the men in making 
their voices heard. 



302 LUCY AYLMER. 

" Now," vociferated old Bill, " more good 
loud uns for Mr. Cecil and Miss Maude, and 
bless 'em both to their dying day !'' 

Again shouting followed, and when it 
seemed about to die away, shouts were called 
forth for Lady Mora, " the poor man's friend," 
and the Earl, and Countess. 

"And," added Bill, " for all on 'em! 
Now another for the Pa'son come home 
again 1" 

And when these ceased, the bells from St. 
Walburga took up the sound, and pealed mer- 
rily forth ; and from the tower high waved the 
flag on its tall staff. 

" 'Pon my w^ord," whispered the Squire to 
Maude, " it's affecting !" 

But Robert silently despatched a boy to 
stop the bells, and presently himself addressed 
the audience. His voice faltered as he thanked 
them all for their kindness in thus welcoming 
home one who so cruelly deserted them ; but, 
with God's blessing, he promised for the future 
to be true to them, and work w4th his every 
energy so long as life was spared him — " and 
may we all unite in promoting unity, peace, 
and concord among us," he continued, " and 
by this means be true to ourselves, our Queen, 



LUCY ATLMER. 303 

our church — and whatever betides, and what- 
ever aggressions the enemies of our faith make, 
may we be true to a man, to our Bible, and 
pray God never to take it from us, but pre- 
serve us good soldiers and servants to Him, to 
our lives' end !" 

A silence succeeded Robert's earnest ad- 
dress ; then Cecil spoke a few words to the 
people, and when he ceased, the Squire ex- 
claimed in his merry voice : 

" I am no speech-maker, so all I can do is 
to wish you, one and all, long life and happi- 
ness, and thank you for your hearty good 
feeling towards me and mine." 

Then taking up in his arms his little grand- 
son, who was standing close by his side, he 
held him high above his head, saying, 

*• Wave your cap at them, httle Phil, and 
show them what a man you are !" 

The child's fair cheeks glowed ; and taking 
oflP his little straw hat, he waved it round and 
round, and imitating the general fits of cheer- 
ing, called out in his manly Httle voice: 
" Hurra, hurra !" 

A loud burst of enthusiasm followed this 
for Lucy's child; and when the Squire at 
length set Harry down, old St. Walburga's 



304 LUCY AYLMER. 

bells again rose and fell on the ear, nor ever 
stopped until the whole assembly had trooped 
away into the shadowy village to their quiet, 
happy homes. The noble guests dispersed also, 
Flora and Lord Glendowan wandering toge- 
ther across the park ; and this time their 
earnest conversation was of plans for Robert 
and his sister Mildred, who with her husband 
and family, was shortly expected to arrive in 
England. 

The young Vicar of Worsted, when all was 
over, slid away and prayed by Lucy's grave ; 
his brow was ever sad, but in his prayer he 
said there was " Peace." And Peace spread 
her wings over Porsted, and the stars kept 
watch o'er Lucy's grave and the flowers that 
grew around it; and there was happiness at 
last in the quiet village, even though its 
fairest flower had passed away to the land 
where there is everlasting rest. 



THE END. 



LONDON : 

Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street. 






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